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Dance Lesson #2

3.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Dance Lesson #2 by Karl Denson

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Saxophonist Karl Denson may not have the name recognition enjoyed by new-jack jazzmen such as Charlie Hunter or Medeski, Martin & Wood, but that should change with Dance Lesson #2, his Blue Note debut. A versatile player, Denson played with Lenny Kravitz in the early '90s and helped found the acclaimed if short-lived Greyboy Allstars in the mid-'90s. He's also cut a handful of albums on small labels, the early ones more straight-ahead and the later ones more locked into the groove thing. Here, Denson's work on alto, tenor, and flute rides the dance-floor jazz groove with the melodic sense of Herbie Mann and the immaculate funk timing of Maceo Parker, who is undoubtedly an influence. An all-star cast of sidemen that includes Melvin Sparks, Charlie Hunter, Chris Wood, and DJ Logic urge Denson on by holding nothing back themselves. This set is also diverse--while some tunes delve deep into the groove, others verge on smooth jazz, making for a nicely paced, well-crafted album. --Tad Hendrickson

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 22, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • Run Time: 62 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005B4N1
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,329 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
As a long-time groove disciple and fan of the Greyboy Allstars, I couldn't help but snatch this album up at first sight. The band lineup added to my excitement -- combining veteran groovemeisters like Melvin Sparks (guitar) and Ron Levy (organ) with new cats like Chris Wood (bass) of Medeski, et al., Charlie Hunter (8-string guitar), and DJ Logic. I was also pleased that Denson decided to bring along a fellow Greyboy Allstar, drummer Zak Najor, to the "bigtime" (a very deserving inclusion).
I've given this album repeated listenings in a sincere effort to give it more than its fair shot, but haven't been able to overcome my initial feeling of disappointment. The album starts out promisingly with the tight funk groove of Dance Lesson #2. But from there it quickly subsides into an undifferentiated succession of flat mid-tempo jams that shuffle along in seemingly sleepwalk-like state. The songwriting is unoriginal, and the playing is uninspired, almost smug. Major labor debuts don't have to be like this (witness the new Soulive album, for example).
Don't get me wrong, everything GROOVES here -- hence, three stars. But, as someone familiar with the quality of Denson's work with the Greyboy Allstars and as a solo artist, I have to say this is pretty mediocre. It's a shame that Denson, for whatever reason, presents less than himself in his "big debut." Get his other stuff first, then check this out if you want more, but not necessarily better.
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Format: Audio CD
As the title to this review says, Herbie, where are you. There is a heavy dose of Memphis Underground here (the boogaloo beat on Rumpwinder) and the haunting tribute to Walter Wunderlich's B3. But, the dance mix sound effects are out of place and ruin an otherwise delightful offering. Take away the noise, leave the funk and pick up two more stars from this reviewer.
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Format: Audio CD
The title of the review says it all. Karl Denson is one the most talented saxophonists of this generation and some how is still far more obscure then he should be. Out of all of his discs this one is my all time fav, more so then his latest excellent disk "the bridge". You really get to hear him stretch out on this one. Also this was incredibly produced. This CD sonically, sounds incredible. Can't wait for his next release!!!!
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By A Customer on July 11, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I am a big time jazz fan and I have become very interested in jazz-funk jam bands like Denson's Tiny Universe, Galactic, Soulive, etc. I just bought this album, and for the most part, I am very impressed. The album has a lot more to it that Soulive's Doin' Something, another new-school style Blue Note release. Perhaps it's that more attention is paid to solos or simply the instrumentation, but Dance Lesson #2 sounds very innovative and experimental compared to the Soulive album, which gets rather repetitive and sometimes sounds just like something Jimmy Smith might have produced 40 years ago (not that it's bad, it's just not particularly riveting). My only complaint is that there is sort of a timid feel. It seems like Denson, perhaps apprehensive about a lyric-free debut the storied Blue Note family, doesn't stretch the music on the album to the limits that could easily be reached. I think it's awesome that Denson uses DJ Logic on the turntables, I think that a mix of jazz and turntable dance music can be really, really cool. Again, however, the turntable work is missing something, sometimes it sounds really good but sometimes it just sounds like odd background noise, it should be given more attention on the album. All in all, though, I must say that I really like this CD. Despite what Wynton Marsalis or anyone else might argue, Jazz is alive and it is changing and innovating everyday. Consider this album a roughly sketched, somewhat narrow preview of much, much better things to come.
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Format: Audio CD
I really like the combination of live jazz musicians and DJs, and so naturally I was drawn to a recording by one of the pioneers of the mixture. Denson's work with Greyboy as well as his stellar live show with the Tiny Universe (sometimes accompanied by DJ Logic) are very refreshing bits of music in a world that seems to have forgotten all but four looped bars of the funk of yesteryear. Dance Lesson #2 starts off marvelously, the blend of grooves and scratching on the first two tracks is as good as one will hear. But all in all Denson and his marvelous assembly of musicians including MMW Veterans Logic and Chris Wood as well as Zak Najor, Charlie Hunter and a host of other Jazz greats, seem to run out of material. Unlike fellow funk-jazz revivalists Soulive, Denson starts with a great introduction that seems to be leading to a wonderous "Above the Clouds" world of sound and leads us only to find a quality smooth jazz record. This album is definitely worth a listen and probably a purchase. I listen to it pretty regularly, but it is not the full capacity of Denson and his ensemble.
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Format: Audio CD
Being a HUGE fan of the Greyboy Allstars, Galactic, and the jazz/funk genre in general, you can imagine my delight when, way back in March!, I stumbled upon a promotional copy of Dance Lesson #2 put out by Blue Note. Having had months now to fully digest this equisite treat of an album, I must say Denson out-funks many of his own memorable albums made with the Greyboy Allstars, and firmly cements his reputation as a magnet for the most talented, explorative, and downright groovy musicians out there. Denson, as always, amazes on both sax and flute; DJ Logic provides nice fills and tasteful cuts throughout; Melvin Sparks thrills with his trademark crystalline guitar leads; and Zak Najor and EJ Rodriguez lend a solid rythmic backbone to the festivities. Throw in choice contributions by Chris Wood, Charlie Hunter, and Ron Levy, and you've got a winner. Give a shot out to the cats at Blue Note for continuing to churn out meaty groove fests with the likes of Soulive, Karl Denson, and MMW!
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