Kenny Garrett is an incredible musician. He’s arguably had one of the largest impacts on alto saxophone since Charlie Parker. In fact, when he started to gain popularity, most every alto player in the world had to rethink their concept. All of a sudden, copying Charlie Parker didn’t seem that cool anymore.
But the thing is, Kenny Garrett built his unique style using the jazz language of his heroes. Besides his huge beautiful dark one-of-a-kind tone, that’s why it sounds so awesome.
Because he mixed his own unique style with the bebop language, it sounds like a natural and progressive evolution of the music.
Today we’ll have a listen and a look into what makes some his lines tick…
Getting into Kenny’s head
It’s always difficult trying to understand a modern player by listening to them play on their own esoteric compositions.
Studying their playing on a standard or a tune you’re ultra familiar with.
In this lesson, we’ll check out what Kenny plays on the Charlie Parker tune Ornithology, which is based on the tune How High the Moon.
Here are the chord changes to Ornithology so you have an idea about what’s going on with the harmony if you’re not familiar with the tune.
Listen to Kenny Garrett play Ornithology and how effortlessly he weaves through the chord changes and commands the direction of the entire band.
Every phrase he plays has intent behind it and leads perfectly into the next one.
And, somehow he naturally takes his lines to some foreign sounding places that sound incredible.
But as you’ll see, they’re not so foreign. In fact, after this lesson you’ll be able to use the same strategies that Kenny Garrett is using to achieve some of these really cool sounds!
Using the 2 triad, the tritone triad, and creating strong sequences
Listen to Kenny at 1:11 play the following line: