Buried Treasures: Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, "Because Of Her Beauty"

Oct 10, 2018

Welcome to Buried Treasures, a new series at The B-Side where we dig back and listen to some older songs that we heard on Studio One in years past, or that we just felt like digging up. Please send your suggestions for Buried Treasures to studioone@iowapublicradio.org.

For our latest Buried Treasures artist, we're looking at someone who is a virtual rock star in certain, smaller circles, but remains largely unknown: jazz/funk saxophonist and vocalist Karl Denson. Denson's resume speaks for itself: in addition to his own music, he's performed and recorded with quite a variety of musicians, including jazz legends Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland, the Blind Boys Of Alabama, Warren Haynes and The Allman Brothers. He's been a touring member of The Rolling Stones since 2014, and he remains a fixture on the jam band circuit as a sideman, and with his bands KD3 and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.

The 2002 album The Bridge was the first by Karl Denson's Tiny Universe: by then, Denson had already appeared on 11 other albums, including six solo records and three with the Greyboy Allstars, another band he co-founded. According to Denson's own website, The Bridge is "a fairly straightforward document of Karl Denson’s live performance". It's full of extended jazz and funk jams, and the lyrics are definitely more important in some songs than others. Here's one that falls somewhere in the middle: "Because Of Her Beauty", a great showcase for Denson's considerable skills as a sax player and as a vocalist.

We'll close this edition of Buried Treasures with some shamelss personal context: Karl Denson's first recorded appearance was on Lenny Kravitz's 1989 debut album Let Love Rule, and he also was part of Kravitz's band for the subsquent tour, where they opened for Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. The tour included a stop at Iowa City's Carver Hawkeye Arena. It was my first rock concert, although I didn't know who Lenny Kravitz was before the show, and had certainly never heard of Karl Denson.