6/27/05

Kenny Brooks- Special K


I started playing with tenor saxophonist Kenny Brooks when I was a junior in high school. We co-led quintets together for years. I suppose he was probably the peer that had the greatest influence on me as a player. Both of us studied with George Garzone and listened to a lot of the same cats. We used to play Abersolds for hours on end, really pushing each other to play better. If it wasn't for Kenny B I might have ended up going to North Texas State, where I had a scholarship, instead of Berklee. I would have ended up a "SuperJazz" saxophonist!!!!!!! (cold shudder) BRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

His sound is round and dark, he swings his ass off and his lines are SICK. He was on the road with Charlie Hunter for a while and recorded "Natty Dreds" with him on the Blue Note label. He now has one the most lucrative gigs for a saxophonist today- Rat Dog, a Garteful Dead cover band led by the great Bob Weir. KB had to memorize about 300 Dead tunes for this gig. They are on the road several months a year and getting bigger and bigger all the time. A few other buddies I used to play with in the Bay Area are also on the band- Jeff Chimenti and Jay Lane. Kenny B has a nice web site with some good transcriptions and interesting sound clips. He is also a founding member,along with Dred Scott, of a truly great Bay Area Acid-Jazz/Hip-bop group called Alphabet Soup. I miss playing with all these guys a lot.

(KB and I are on Dred's 'Small Clubs are Dead' 1993 release.)

Some of the sidemen that played with our Quintet:
Eddie Marshal, Larry Grenadier, Dred Scott, Jeff Ballard, Kenny Wollesen, Dimitry Metheny, Tom White, John Medeski, Jesse Murphy, Neal Hiedler, Wesley Wirth, Scott Amendola, Matt Gleason, Graham Conah, Alex Candelaria, John Witalla, Liberty Ellman, Dave McNabb, Smith Dobson, Smith Dobson jr.

2 comments:

Adam said...

I remember when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school my grandmother who lived in El Cerrito, CA sent me an article from a local paper on a kid about my age at El Cerrito high school who was dead-serious about music and the saxophone. I remember a quote from that article where Kenny said he wasn't going to let anything stop him from doing what he wants to do. When I got to meet him and play with him through the Monterey Jazz Festival program I found that to be definitely the case -- actually an understatement. He was into it like no one I'd met. His style embodies John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Joe Lovano, David Liebman... and, at the time, Saxa from the English Beat! He has probably the best, most dramatic, stage presence of any horn player I've seen. He’s a truly awesome player.

Here’s an mp3 of Kenny, myself on bari, and Scott Jensen on trumpet doing an instrumental with our rock/ska band The Uptones back in 1989: http://uptones.com/mp3/the_uptones-east_of_a_western_bay.mp3

David Valdez said...

Thanks for that clip Adam. That sounded great. I forget how good the Uptones were. I remember going up to Berkley and sitting in with them when KB was on the band.They were pretty big stars back then. They were all wearing black leather penny-loafers with pennies in them.....