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Playing into a mature sound

Cassie Pence

VAIL – Just as wine tastes better with age, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is feeling the harmonious effects of musical experience.Together now for six years, the band, led by former Lenny Kravitz sax-man Denson, is playing into a mature sound, working on a new album and continuing to expand the minds of its listeners with its high-energy funk sound.”We all are just playing to get better at what we do. Over time, it’s supposed to get better or you’re doing something wrong. I think ‘The Bridge’ (2002) is a great record, and it was as good as the band was when it was put out, but now we’ve moved on. I think the band sounds a lot better than that record now. We’re trying to make the next record sound as good as we think we could be,” said Denson while in Breckenridge for a concert.The band is hoping the album is complete and released next fall. Members are taking their time with it, making sure it sounds polished.”We write a few tunes, perform them, see how people react to them, and then go back to the drawing board a lot, too,” Denson said.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KDTU) is a dance band, plain and simple. It’s nearly impossible to keep still during the group’s live performance.”I like how he plays everything from slow, jazzy ballads to straight on jammin funk. He covers the whole gamut. The audience feeds off his energy. At his shows everyone is boogying with a big smile on their face,” Allan Dibben, manager of Beaver Creek Fine Wines.Dibben said he likes KDTU because its music has its roots in jazz, but what makes the band so exciting, is its ability to read and play to the crowd. Local funk band Flux5 recently opened for Denson in Steamboat. Lead sax man Dave Laub said that’s the one thing he and his band learned from watching Denson is how important it is to interact with the audience.”Karl Denson has playing to the crowd down,” said Laub.”That’s years of playing shows. We base our set on a formula now. We found a couple of sets that work and now what we do is use that same set and interchange tunes, so we can get the same slope out of the set. We’re not so worried about coming out hard and leaving it all behind. We pace ourselves a little bit better and actually try to make the show climax toward the end. So we get a chance to do things that are more musical,” said Denson.

Denson said the sucess of a show boils down to chemistry between the band and between the band and the audience.”Sometimes you go places where there’s just always a great audience and a great vibe. Vail is one of those places. Nine times out of 10 we have a great show just because the audience is so much fun. It’s just about how much energy gets created in the room,” said Denson.The audience may add to the experience, but Denson is definetly leading the room’s energy with his saxophone. His stage presence is undeniable.”I don’t know where he gets all his energy. I saw him play from 1 to 5 a.m. in the morning at the High Sierra Music Festival. Half the audience was long and gone, and he’s still up there blowin’ the horn,” said Dibben.Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe plays 8150 in Vail Village Friday night at 10. For more information, call the club at 389-4565.



Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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