Multi-Grammy-nominated alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, who has performed with jazz legends Art Blakey, Woody Shaw and Miles Davis, is now regarded as the most scintillating soprano/alto saxophonist in the jazz world. Garrett, a Detroit native, spent his childhood surrounded by music; he first encountered the saxophone through his father, who played tenor sax. While jazz strongly influenced Garrett's early years, he also was exposed to classical, soul and gospel music.
In 1978 Garrett joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which Duke's son, Mercer, directed at the time. Garrett also played with the Mel Lewis Orchestra and the Dannie Richmond Quartet, in New York. Garrett debuted as a leader on his 1984 album, Introducing Kenny Garrett (Criss Cross, 1994). In 1986 Garrett joined Miles Davis' band, with which he spent five years and recorded four albums.
Garrett has since performed with an array of artists whose styles span the musical spectrum; they include Art Blakey, Peter Gabriel, GURU, Woody Shaw and Sting. His ever-evolving style reflects different musical genres and international influences. A Latin-jazz influence courses through Garrett's "Doc Tone's Short Speech" on his newest album Standard of Language (Warner Bros., 2003). Garrett wrote "Short Speech" in memory of his personal friend, the late pianist Kenny Kirkland, who emphasized Latin-jazz montuno chord progressions in his own music.
Garrett's interest in Asian music is apparent on his CD Happy People (Warner Bros 2002), which includes a song written for an 80-year-old aboriginal whose music Garrett encountered in Taipei. In other songs, Garrett fuses the rhythms and melodies characteristic of Japanese music with gospel and funk. He has traveled to Japan numerous times to absorb the culture and learn the language.
In addition to Standard of Language and Happy People, Kenny Garrett has recorded 10 albums: Old Folks (Westwind, 2001), Simply Said (Warner Bros/Wea, 1999), Solid with Woody Shaw (32.Jazz Records, 1999), Songbook (Warner Bros/Wea, 1997), Pursuance: the Music of John Coltrane (Warner Bros/Wea, 1996), Trilogy (Warner Bros / Wea, 1995), Introducing Kenny Garrett (Criss Cross, 1994), Two Tenor Winner with Junior Cook (Criss Cross, 1994), Black Hope (Warner Bros/Wea, 1992) and African Exchange Student (Atlantic/Wea, 1990).