The Bridge – Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Old school. New school. On Karl Denson's Tiny Universe's latest, it
sounds as if the onetime Greyboy Allstar acquired a daylong hall pass and
sampled the teachings from a multitude of classrooms.
On The Bridge, he leads his band through 11 tracks that touch upon R
funk, hip-hop, jam and several decades worth of jazz history. What Denson
and company accomplish seamlessly bridges the gaps between these genres.
Granted, it's not far reaching to display the influence of the jazz genre
along with the jambands. One can also make an easy association of the flow
from rhythm and blues to funk and rap. What makes it significant is that the
echoes of the styles become synthesized as part of the whole package. At
times, one may emerge stronger than the other but, overall, the material
doesn't just offer palpable grooves but includes something of substance to
along with them.
Even the political edge given to "Freedom," thanks in part by street poet
Saul Williams and hip-hop activist Michael Franti, is matched musically by
sharp, choppy rhythms and solos.
On KDTU's last release, Dance Lesson #2, its virtues were generally
sapped by the smooth production values. The songs moved and grooved but
rarely did they snap, crackle and pop. (Sorry, no breakfast.) I only bring
this up in order to reinforce the overall strengths of The Bridge.
album doesn't sound as if it was recorded in a cavernous basement, but the
mix balances its roots in R&B and funk and simultaneously elicits a spark
from each musical note.
Several years ago my friend Eric extolled the greatness of KDTU.
Witnessing several supporting slots by the band intrigued me but didn't sway
me into the same realm of interest as him. The Bridge changes that.
writing, playing and attitude all serve the song and the groove, and make
entrance to Denson's Tiny Universe an inviting excursion.