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Review: Jazz master Garrett concentrates on music in Cabaret show

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 11:18 p.m.

Kenny Garrett certainly is a master of his saxophones, if not a sparkling stage presence.

The ex-sideman of Miles Davis performed April 9 at the Cabaret Theater, Downtown, in a show that was filled with energy and intense music. Garrett, in fact, was so intense, he did not bother to identify the songs he was playing or make much of an attempt to relate at all to the people who had come to see him.

The concert was part of the April-long Jazz Appreciation Month celebration.

Now, the argument always is: Isn't it better to concentrate on music and let the words up to those who deal with them. Perhaps, but a little chat about the music always works.

That is not to say the Garrett concert did not work. It was a show laden with music — even if a great deal of it moved in the same direction. Garrett is a wonderful player and is long, show-opening solo on what is believed to be “Boogety Boogety” was an impressive show simply of physical strength. not to mention musical facility.

His solos on a lot and soprano saxophone were rich and creative, sometimes using quotes from Nat Adderley's “Work Song” or “My Favorite Things,” the song that has became a jazz hymn because of John Coltrane.

In the first hour of play, Garrett and his quintet did only three numbers, the last of which was about 30 minutes long. At the end of that piece, which sounded an awful lot like ”Haynes Here,” Garrett went into a long, repeated phrase that seemed ultimately a little boring, but seemed to get a large part of the crowd excited.

Shortly after that, a gentleman came dancing up to the stage, throwing crumbled paper bills toward the musicians.

He definitely was into the evening.

The biggest weak spot of the night was that most of the songs sounded quite similar in their fury. The band opened a tune that could have been “Wiggins,” and started a little gently, but within minutes it was churning along like “Boogety Boogety”.

A little variation would have been worthwhile.

The band behind Garrett was strong, particularly in the work of percussionist Rudy Bird, who also added another voice to arrangements with wordless vocals.

Bassist Corcoran Holt was dynamically quick through the whole show, taking several well deserved solos.

It could have been a warmer show, but it was by no means disappointing.

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