Author's Note: This telephone interview was conducted the morning of August 4, 2003. Kenny Garrett took a break from his roadtrip to Boston to call. All of us at Jazz Internet.com, Las Vegas Blues and Caught Live Too! would like to thank Kenny for being so gracious as to take time from his busy schedule. We also wish to thank Arvella Kinkaid at Warner Brothers for setting up the interview.
DB: I read that your father taught you how to play the saxophone, was your mother a musician?
KG: No my mother wasn't a musician, but there was always music around the house. My dad bought me a toy saxophone when I was a child. Then he bought my first real saxophone that was welded over a bullet hole.
DB: I've listened to your work on Wayman Tisdale's POWER FORWARD CD. I think that he did a good job for an ex-NBA star, what do you think?
KG: I think first he was probably a musician.
DB: Are you satisfied with your new CD, STANDARD OF LANGUAGE?
KG: Of course yeah, it's the CD alot of my fans have been waiting on for awhile. We had alot of fun doing it, it was recorded at the same time as my HAPPY PEOPLE CD. We went back in the studio to record four of the songs. The concept was ready to happen, to keep the live feel to it. HAPPY PEOPLE was basicially production and live. Everybody always talked about the live concerts, so I was just trying to get some of that energy, and we accomplished that.
DB: The CD has such a great live feel it's like you're playing in my living room, it has such a wonderful sound.
KG: Thank you.
DB: We have a friend in common, recording engineer Joe Ferla who's worked on a few of your CD's.
KG: That's my man there, he's worked on all my CD's, he's the man.
DB: You've worked with alot of great musicians, from your friends the late Kenny Kirkland and Miles Davis to Peter Gabriel and Sting. Who else would you like to work with?
KG: I'd like to work with B. B. King and Prince, McCoy Tyner and Bobby Hutcherson. I've worked with both of them but I'd like to work with Bobby and McCoy together. Those men are like my musical heroes. I have a quote on my HAPPY PEOPLE CD "Bobby Hutcherson for President". He's playing alot of music, him and McCoy Tyner together, it's like incredible, those are the guys I look up to.
DB: Who are your earlier influences?
KG: People like Hank Crawford, Grover Washington Jr. and Cannonball Adderly. Mostly the commerical Cannonball Adderly.
DB: When are you going to play Las Vegas?
KG: Actually we never come to Las Vegas. I have maybe played there once or twice at that. I've played it with my band and I've played it with Chic(Corea) someplace. We've been traveling alot, I'm heading to California Wednesday to rehearse with Marcus Miller for this All-Star thing in Japan with Layla Hathaway and Take 6. I'll be going to South Africa with my band, then I'm going to Copenhagen to teach master classes. We're traveling alot.
DB: What was the first concert you attended?
KG: I can't remember the first one. Probably one of the first ones was a Motown Revue. The Temptations and The Four Tops, my mother wanted me to see that.
DB: Are you happy with the way your career is going so far?
KG: If you compare it to other artists, I think I'm doing great. There are still things I'd like to do and hopefully in time, I'll get to do those things. I think I'm doing pretty good.
DB: Besides woking with your heroes, what would you like to do?
KG: I'm interested in doing somthing with an orchestra, perhaps doing something with some rappers or music that's coming from that vibe.
DB: Like Nicholas Payton does on his new CD SONIC TRANCE?
KG: When you are a horn player, you can't really do rap or hip hop, but you can capture the vibe.
DB: Today you're heading to Boston. Do you have a gig?
KG: I'm enroute to Boston, not to play a gig, but to get my instrument checked. Emillio Lyons, they call him the Sax Doctor, he's the guy who works on it, so I had to go. I knew that I had to stop and do this interview. I'm about two hours away.
DB: If you weren't a musician, what would you be?
KG: I'd probably be a linguist, I love languages. I have a real passion for Asian languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
DB: That helps explains the title of your CD STANDARD OF LANGUAGE and the two Japanese inspired songs, "GENDAI" and "KURITA SENSEI". It seems like you really had a good time and loved Japan?
KG: Since the first time I went to Japan it was a place I wanted to stay. At that time, I was pretty shy and the people there helped me come out of my shyness. Every time I would go, the people would treat me so nicely. I was there with Miles, and other trips they showed me alot of love.
DB: When you play with Miles, everyone will show you alot of love.
KG: Especially there. People treated him like a god.
DB: Thanks, and be careful on your drive up to Boston.
KG: Thank you Don, take care.
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