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Kenny Garrett Beyond The Wall Review

Album. Released 2006.  

BBC Review

...a voyage back to the music of his mentors...

Lara Bellini 2006

'Beyond the Wall' is an attempt to investigate Chinese music from a jazz perspective. It comes from a boundary-crossing saxophonist who's always shown a keen interest in Asian cultures and thrives on the conviction that all music worldwide shares common elements.

Garrett's journey east takes a form that was codified back in the Sixties by those who embarked on similar journeys. The album is in some ways a voyage back to the music of his mentors, and particularly to the spiritual and musical openness of John Coltrane. This is reflected in the choice of personnel; Garrett takes on board vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders, and the album is dedicated to pianist McCoy Tyner.

The music returns to hard-bopping territories and experimental openness (after his collaboration with Marcus Miller on ‘Happy People’), without detracting from Garrett’s signature sound and style.

Garrett is not afraid to explore the entire range of the alto (no soprano here) and to allow his fellow musicians free rein (Mulgrew Miller on piano, Robert Hurst on bass and the indefatigable Brian Blade on drums). Quotations from Chinese music are twisted and reinvented into improvisational atmospherics (at times 'A Love Supreme' springs to mind).
This, together with tunes of more recognizable Chinese origin (the evocative ‘Tsunami Song’, with Garrett playing piano accompanied by traditional Chinese violin; the Tibetan choir in ‘Realization’) give the album its charm.

'Beyond The Wall' embraces jazz in its original connotation, as a form so flexible and unrestricted that is both able to embrace the world and not be afraid to question its own foundations in the process.

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