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Karl Denson Taps Motown Influence On New Album

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, September 11, 2009

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Karl Denson, the Greyboy Allstars singer and saxophonist, wanted to make “a soul record” with his latest album with his solo band, Tiny Universe. “Brother’s Keeper,” which comes out Sept. 22, is certainly that, and Denson acknowledges that a big part of his soul universe on the set included Motown.

“When I was a kid, when I was very young, that’s all I heard — lots and lots of Motown,” notes Denson, 52. “That whole Motown, Tamla connection was very strong with me. That was in my very young years.

“And then the jazz thing kind of popped up in my early teens, but I did my whole stint of Motown, the real oldies. So that’s really a part of who I am, I think.”

Denson also decided to tap into the Motown method when it came to recording “Brother’s Keeper,” which features guest appearances by Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman, Meshell Ndegeocello and former Black Crowes guitarist Mark Ford.

“I’ve always loved the way (Motown) had all these writers and arrangers involved on their songs,” Denson explains. “There was a beauty to those old records where they’d write the song and then pass them to the horn arranger, the string arranger, the vocal arranger — the whole factory thing. That gives those records a lot more depth.

“So with this record, I wrote the songs and then gave them to my keyboard player (David Veith), who I work with a lot, and kind of had him re-write them, just to get another layer of production on it. It’s that same mentality, and I loved doing it. I think it made everything sound better in the end.”

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe performs Sunday (Sept. 13) at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call (248) 544-3030 or visit www. themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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