Jazz CD Reviews

Kenny Garrett – Beyond the Wall – Nonesuch

Kenny Garrett's Tribute to the East

Published on October 27, 2006

Kenny Garrett – Beyond the Wall – Nonesuch
Kenny Garrett – Beyond the Wall – Nonesuch 79933-2  2006,  76:50  *****:

(Kenny Garrett, alto sax; Pharaoh Sanders, tenor sax; Mulgrew Miller, piano; Robert Hurst III, bass; Brian Blade, drums; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; Ruggerio Boccato, percussion; Gouwei Wang, ehru;  Jonanthan Gandelsman, violin; Neil Humphrey, cello; Susan Jolles, harp; Nedelka Echols, Genea Martin, Kevin Wheatley, Arlene Lewis, Geovanti Steward, Dawn Caveness, vocals)

Kenny Garrett’s Beyond the Wall is a dazzingly foray into the music, culture, and instruments of the Far East, reflected through the progressive jazz forms Garrett is famous for. He has assembled an all-star band for this journey, including the legendary Pharaoh Sanders on tenor sax, and vibes master Bobby Hutcherson.

Calling, the first song, features Sanders’ trademark rich tone interweaving with Garrett’s impassioned alto as they hit crescendo after crescendo, finally settling into wonderfully dense solos. On Beyond the Wall, the arrangement is centered around three ascending lines swiftly followed by a descending one, with Sanders and Garrett playing beautifully nervous and chaotic solos reminiscent of Sanders’ albums from the 1970s.

Qing Wen features a gorgeous Eastern-tinged melody, while Realization (Marching Towards the Light) samples the chanting of Tibetan monks, a sound Garrett clearly has reverence for, since he plays like he doesn’t want to disturb the sacredness of the voices. Tsunami Song is a gorgeous tribute to the Tsunami victims with Garrett playing piano, ceding the melodic duties to musicians playing cello, harp, violin, and ehru, a Chinese instrument.

Beyond the Wall is a beautiful album, rich in melody, groove, and progressive notions of what jazz can be.

Track List: Calling, Beyond the Wall, Qing Wen, Realization (Marching Towards the Light), Tsunami Song, Kiss to the Skies, Now, Gwoka, May Peace Be Upon Them

– Dan Krow

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