From Lenny Kravitz to King of the Universe 

The World According to sax player Karl Denson

Who: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Where: Boor Pub Fairgrounds

When: Saturday, Aug. 30

To many in Whistler, the very saxy Karl Denson needs no introduction. The top touring artist from California brings people to their feet like a funky, jazzed up pied piper.

The hot and happening horn blower comes in many forms. He travelled around the world in psychedelic rocker Lenny Kravitz’s band, got his groove on with activist Michael Franti and Spearhead, and traded blows with legendary jazz players Fred Wesley and Roy Hargrove.

Denson can also take some of the credit for North America’s crush on acid jazz grooves, thanks to his popular project in the mid-90s, the Greyboy Allstars.

However it’s with his latest eclectic posse, the Tiny Universe, that he wings it to Whistler at the end of the month, and fans can expect a show as influenced by James Brown and Jimi Hendrix as it will be by the Roots and Ben Harper.

Not only is Denson the consummate entertainer, he is also one of the most down-to-earth legends of the game. At 9 in the morning, with three kids in tow, Denson delivers the goods.

He likes to discover music and take it to the people.

"I’m a jazz musician at heart but I like to fuse that with dance styles and any new flavours that I find along the way."

Playing with Lenny Kravitz was "the golden years," he says.

"I was with him for the three albums Let Love Rule, My Momma Said and Are You Gonna Go My Way . I consider them all absolutely timeless and it was nice to be able to contribute to that."

But he says it was scary deciding to go out on his own.

"I was a little freaked to leave Lenny and the band, but I saw it as a challenge. There’s so many things that Lenny can do so naturally that I couldn’t. Like singing. I found that really hard at first but unless you take chances, you don’t get the reward."

Denson could see an acid jazz wave coming.

"Having been in Europe in the early ’90s with Lenny I kind of saw jazzed up dance music all blow up there in the clubs so I knew it would make its way to the States and that’s when DJ Greyboy and I got together."

For five years the Allstars toured the globe but they split in 1998. Now they are on a reunion tour.

"We’re just having fun, it’s good times. We have to concentrate a little to remember the old tunes and styles but it’s great to see people are still really interested in the music."

But Whistler will get the Tiny Universe, an audio, visual, physical treat.

"I’m bringing the whole unit. It’ll be a funky, soul, jazz experience with a rock edge to it. We take a dance approach to whatever we do and get the good beat going for everyone, so be ready."

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