Power of three: KD3 plays the Wheeler | AspenTimes.com

Power of three: KD3 plays the Wheeler

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

Saxophonist Karl Denson is playing tonight at the Wheeler Opera House with his trio, KD3. (Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN Karl Denson is a busy man. Perhaps best-known for his group Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, he is also the founder of the San Diego funksters the Greyboy Allstars. But he’s bringing a new act to the Wheeler tonight as part of the KD3: the Karl Denson Trio. In addition to Denson playing with all three bands, the Greyboy Allstars recently recorded their first album in nine years, “What Happened to TV?” And Denson said he got out of the studio last week recording an album with KD3. “I went through a little lull there, and I’m coming out of it with a vengeance,” Denson said, by phone from California. “I’ve pared it down to two groups as far as touring at any one time.”

According to Denson, playing with all three bands is the best of all worlds. For him, each group provides a little something different. “KD3 is just a little slant on what I normally do,” Denson said. “It’s funky and a little more jazzy at times. I would call it a minimalist Tiny Universe kind of thing. You get a little bit of air between the notes.”KD3 takes it back to Denson’s jazz roots, which has been a theme of Denson’s past: After numerous world tours and two albums with Lenny Kravitz, Denson recorded four jazz albums in various small groups of musicians. “The trio is really good for my playing,” Denson said. “That’s a pure jazz kind of gig. When I come out of that situation I’m a much better instrumentalist.”

The fewer people playing on-stage means more time playing, Denson said. So playing with a group like KD3 means each musician has a more demanding job. As he put it, a trio is only two men away from a solo gig. “The fewer people you have, the more demanding it is on any of the players there,” Denson said. “Certain things feed off each other. With the Greyboy Allstars, that’s my most fun and least stressful thing that I do. Everybody is so strong in that band. That’s like a vacation where I get to feed on other people’s ideas.”The Allstars are set to appear in Aspen later this spring in support of their new album. Denson said getting down to recording with the sextet was no problem during nine days in the studio.”The concept for the record was not to bring in any songs but to go into the studio, mess around, and so it’s a complete collaborative work,” Denson said. “We wrote over a tune a day. Somebody would have a little idea, and we’d say, ‘Let’s put a different feel on it,’ or ‘Here are some lyrics.'”

After nine years without a record, Denson said the band was loosing some of its quality. He felt if they didn’t get in and record something new, they needed to slow down or stop the touring. With the success he saw in the studio, he said there is more to come. “Every 18 months’ll be an Allstars record and every few years it will be a KD trio record,” Denson said. “Hopefully, the big picture would be that I would pare it down to one at a time, make it count.”KD3 takes the stage at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, available at the Wheeler Opera House.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address isjstonington@aspentimes.com

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