Tiny funk masters get down and freaky | VailDaily.com

Tiny funk masters get down and freaky

Andrew Harley
Special to the Daily Karl Denson's Tiny Universe jams at State Bridge Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in Bond.
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Try not to bring too much unnecessary stuff to State Bridge because, chances are, it will be lost alongside your stress, your trivial worries and your inhibitions. If there’s one thing everyone will not lose at the Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KDTU) show at State Bridge on Sunday, it’s their cool.Denson and company have been busy touring and writing new tunes for an album that will be more rock-oriented. The current songwriting focuses more on structure and accuracy than his previous work.KDTU released “The Bridge” in 2002. The album showed a great range of tunes, from the Curtis Mayfield cover “Check Out Your Mind” to a Fela Kuti tribute called “Freedom” that includes work by Saul Williams and Michael Franti.Denson is the main man on sax, Chris Littlefield plays trumpet, David Veith holds down the keys, Ron Johnson blares an electric bass, Brian Jordan plays electric guitar and John Staten keeps them all together on drums.

“With music, I just like the fact that you can’t get to the end; you can’t graduate, you got to stay in school,” Denson said a few months ago during an interview with the Vail Daily. “I just like my job. I think that’s a blessing, the fact that I have something that I like to do, that I can make a living at and, therefore, I want to do a good job at it.”Denson got his start with Lenny Kravitz back in 1989. He laid down some horn work on “Let Love Rule” and “Mama Said.” He went on to work with DJ Greyboy and James Brown hornman Fred Wesley.”To make a living as a musician was definitely a goal. Back in ’92, we did that ‘Home Cookin’ record, and that made it to the jazz clubs, which was a big dream of mine to have a tune being played in the dance clubs,” said Denson. “That’s still a dream that I’m after right now with my band is to have some kind of popular recognition; to make a groove that kind of crosses the boundaries.”Denson’s typical week on the road includes a couple hours of practice per day, but at home, Denson spends more time writing – anywhere from 10 to 40 hours a week.

“By learning how to play saxophone well, I’m actually enjoying my playing now, which has always been a goal. You start out as a kid playing your horn and you listen back to it on a recording and you’re like, ‘Ah, man. That sucks.’ So to finally be enjoying my own playing when I hear it back is definitely a dream come true,” Denson said.Denson’s resume includes collaborations and stage sharing with most of today’s most popular and renowned artists, but he gives the nod to his band as his favorite people to play with.”We’ve spent a lot of time putting our heads together trying to create our sound,” said Denson.Lately, Denson’s been loving Jimi Hendrix and Radiohead. He has put time into many instruments, including more brass and the piano, but he admits he’s not well-versed when it comes to guitar.

“I have a real love for guitar. By not being a guitar player, there’s an understanding that I’m trying to get to about the guitar,” said Denson. “When you sing something to somebody, you don’t have any hands-on experience and you want them to get it from your perspective, that’s hard. I really depend on a guitarist to understand the things I’m trying to communicate when I say, ‘It’s like a Jimi Hendrix thing or a Radiohead thing.’ I really like Radiohead’s take on guitar and the way Jimi’s chords work throughout a song.”Another thing I’d like to be doing is some more contracted writing – film scores, TV scores, whatever,” said Denson. “I’d like to be writing some tunes for other people where I’m seen as a composer and people either ask me to do work for them or collaborate with them.”Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe plays State Bridge in Bond on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.