It's Karl Denson's Universe | Sound Stories & Interviews | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Coverage for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians.
100% Local. No Paywalls.

Every day, the Source publishes a mix of locally reported stories on our website, keeping you up to date on developments in news, food, music and the arts. We’re committed to covering this city where we live, this city that we love, and we hear regularly from readers who appreciate our ability to put breaking news in context.

The Source has been a free publication for its 22 years. It has been free as a print version and continued that way when we began to publish online, on social media and through our newsletters.

But, as most of our readers know, times are different for local journalism. Tech giants are hoovering up small businesses and small-business advertising—which has been the staple for locally owned media. Without these resources, journalism struggles to bring coverage of community news, arts and entertainment that social media cannot deliver.

Please consider becoming a supporter of locally owned journalism through our Source Insider program. Learn more about our program’s benefits by clicking through today.

Support Us Here

Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

It's Karl Denson's Universe

We're all just playing in it

by

comment

You might have heard Karl Denson's singing, saxophone playing or flute rocking in a few different places. For one, his work with acid jazz group The Greyboy Allstars defined mid to late '90s soul funk dance music.

He plays soul music with The Blind Boys of Alabama, reggae/rock with Slightly Stoopid, stadium rock with Lenny Kravitz, hip-hop with Blackalicious and funk/jazz with Stanton Moore. Oh, and in case you haven't heard, he took over for the late, great Bobby Keys as the Rolling Stones' touring saxophonist. Now he's headed to Central Oregon with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, his more straightforward jazz/jam group centered around his virtuosic saxophone skills.

Denson sits in with so many incredible musicians as a way to keep things fresh for himself. "Playing with all the different bands, I definitely don't get bored," says Denson. "Greyboy Allstars is kind of my favorite thing to do. Musically, it's fun and challenging on a certain level. My thing (Karl Denson's Tiny Universe) is my thing and that's fun to do. Phil and Friends has been the newest thing I've been doing and that's been opening me up to the Grateful Dead catalog, which is great. I do Slightly Stoopid from time to time and those are my boys. And then The Rolling Stones are just...that's The Rolling Stones. I'm not complaining."

Denson's older brother played saxophone, which initially piqued his interest. "It was a cool instrument," says Denson. "Back in the day schools treated playing an instrument like part of your complete education so I ended up in a classroom playing saxophone and listening to really good jazz. It took on a life of its own eventually and by the time I was in college I realized I was taking more music classes than anything else."

At 60, Denson has recently started learning to play the guitar. When I asked him if he was going to play guitar on KDTU's new record, he laughed and replied "No! I'm not that good. It's more of a writing tool. It'll be a few years before I can play enough to sit and sing and play for people, so for now it's just a writing tool. I work usually from melodies. I'll have a melody and then I'll start digging into other possibilities. With the guitar, the cool thing is it kind of makes sense. When you learn five songs on the guitar you kinda know 20 because they're all so similar. It gets me out of my head and into a more simple space of trying to think about writing."

Regardless of who he's playing with, Karl Denson is always exciting. And as he expands his musical palate, I expect that won't be changing anytime soon.

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

Tuesday, Jan. 31. 8pm.

Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr., Bend

$25

Tickets at BendTicket.com

About The Author

Add a comment

More by Jared Rasic

Latest in Sound Stories & Interviews