To say that Kenny Garrett has a vision is not the most accurate statement. While true, it is perhaps more to the point that he has an ear that searches the globe for treasure. He shows his appreciation for the talents of others, as this album pays homage to those who've made a difference in his musical life.
Song For DiFang" is for a Taiwanese group that sings traditional hymns. A very powerful piece which is quite a workout for the group. It's deep, crisp and clean.
Jean Norris scats and sings some hip and fresh vocals on the title track, "Happy People." This one deserves a repeat in your repertoire.
"Tango in 6" is a "new-day" tango with a sweet solo by Hutcherson. It's got a romantic energy blowing through fit for any couple that wants to deviate from the classic. Garrett is melodically straightforward here. "Ain't Nothin' But the Blues" Garrett and his bandmates combine B.B. King-style guitar, Miles Davis' musical sense and sophisticated soul. While not exactly down and dirty, it's funky with creative rhythm and steadily grooving piano pulling it all together.
In "Song #8," Norris scats again on a smooth introduction to a burner similar to "Cherokee." The piano solo reminds me of Jimmy Smith energetically creating on the Hammond in a tireless fury. "Halima's Story" is a tribute to Garrett's daughter with a mysteriously sentimental, yet joyful musical essay. Hutcherson tells such a story here leading into Garrett's labor of love.
"Monk-ing Around" is quite slick. Everyone stretches out tastefully. Hutcherson is like the sweet topping over a caramel latté. He's a consistent performer who's always on top of his game and even more refreshing to hear. "A Hole in One," for Tiger Woods, would be quite nice for a new series of commercial endorsements. Garrett is so very cool and tranquil, while the sizzling piano groove serves to combine those elements that make the subject of this track so interesting to watch.
"Thessalonika" and "Brother B. Harper" speak to the intellect. The latter track pays tribute to saxophonist Billy Harper, but pours the Coltrane on generously. "Asian Medley" is profoundly moving and indeed very spiritual, considering the history behind each segment. One can't help but be captured by the beauty here.
You know, there are a few famous "Kenny's" in jazz. In fact, two share the same initials and play similar instruments. Perhaps it is best to issue an invitation to those who sing the praises of one to give one good listen to the other. Both play pretty music, but if you want depth, variety and to know the true meaning of jazz. Kenny Garrett is your man!