Karl Denson Interview

Contributing Writer:  Edmond Klotz

I had a chance to interview jazz musician Karl Denson the other day.  To be honest, before interviewing him I had never heard of him before, and through my research and phone conversation, I was able to discover that he is one of the most interesting and coolest jazz musicians around.  He has played with Lenny Kravitz and numerous other musicians over the years, now leading his own band Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.  His music is definitely worth checking out. The more you find out about Karl’s music, the more you will want to see him live and get the experience up close.  He will be out on tour this summer, hitting a number of festivals including Electric Forest over the 4th of July holiday weekend.

For more information on Electric Forest, visit: ElectricForestFestival.com  (There should be a banner at the bottom of this post if you’re not feeling like typing. :)

Here is the interview I did with Karl Denson.

When did you music start for you.

When I was in 7th grade my brothers exposed me to bands such as Jimi Hendrix.

What is your biggest influence?

John Coltrane for me that is the biggest influence.

How did you Meet Lenny Kravitz?

I met him threw a friend and that’s how we started our working relationship.  I stayed with Lenny for the next few years.

How did playing with Lenny help you?

Playing with Lenny got me my record deal.

From there you formed the Greyboy Allstars.  How did it come together?

It came together cause of a lot bands at the time were sampling and making new and interesting music such as De La Soul and Guru.  The band came got together in 1992 with DJ Greyboy to fuse jazz and hip-hop togher to make something interesting.

On top of the Greyboy Allstars, you’re also in your own trio.  Tell me how that came about?

The record label asked me who I would like to play with and I said Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland.  I was star struck when we got into the studio cause they were musicians I have lot of respect for, and I couldn’t believe I was recording with them.

Who is the musician you like to jam with?

Warren Haynes is fun to play with and I enjoy it when we get together.

Finish this sentence: Today I am influenced as a musician by….

The Roots are at the top of my list, always doing something new and creative. I also like Patty Griffin and Bjork.

When you perform, how much is improvised?

We play music that is improvised in the middle of the song the beginning and end are always the same for us.

How different is playing a club to a festival?

They are a totally different beast.  At a club you can play a few sets and have them be completely different; whereas, at a festival, you have a short time and you need to trim the fat out of your music to fit the time limit.

I certainly can’t wait to see him at Electric Forest this summer.  My curiosity is peaked to see how this jazz great trims the fat, and still delivers a smoking set.  I can honestly say, “I AM NOW A FAN FOR LIFE!”