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Laying down the sax line

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyKarl Denson used to play saxophone for Lenny Kravitz, but his own project, Tiny Universe, claims all his time now.
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“We had a nice big break at the beginning of the year,” said Lenny Kravitz’s former sax man. “It was really just to refresh ourselves, learn some new tunes.”Denson’s Tiny Universe has made a name for itself, playing marathon shows filled with the funk and acid jazz Denson has become known for. Still, it’s constantly developing.”We’re just trying to figure out what we really like right now, experiment with a lot of different things,” he said about the 5-year-old group. “Hopefully we’ll have a set thing and a direction, right now we’re just learning a lot of tunes based on what we like, and writing based on what we’re really like – soul, R&B, rock and roll sensibilities.”He’s compared himself to a DJ of sorts, since he incorporates so many different styles into his show. But composers, singers and songwriters are whom he really likes to work with.He has high hopes for his audience.”I think I just want them being aware of what’s going on,” he said. “That’s the idea, to stay awake, keep your ears open, eyes open. In the times we’re in, it’s easy to get caught up in stuff and take people’s word without checking it.”Music will always be a driving force for the musician.”I think it’s just fun, and you can’t really get to the end of it,” he explained. “There’s always stuff, more to do, more to learn.”Despite the economy, Denson feels the live music scene is good and healthy. He’s got loyal fans across the country, and cites the Fillmore in both San Francisco and Denver as two of his favorite rooms to play.It wouldn’t feel right to the group to come to Colorado without skiing, so they’re making time for a bit of snowplay.After the tour, they head back to the studio in May for pre-production, putting some ideas down on tape. His working title for the new album is “Forgiveness.””There’s some songs that kind of circle around that, but I don’t want to say too much about it,” he said.He will say he’s looking forward to playing Vail again. He’s been performing since the room was Garton’s.”We always liked that place,” said Denson. “It’s a crazy room, a crazy munch of kids right now, and that floor wiggles around.”Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.


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