reCAP :: KDTU :: 2012.09.21

Oct 21  / Sunday

Karl Denson and his Tiny Universe played a spectacular set Friday night, mixing some of their own with a dynamic collection of covers. Swinging in from southern California where they're getting set to go into the studio to do a third album, the Tiny Universe threw down. Jungle Brothers-like groove driven rhythm pervaded under sharp signatures of horns, organ and some slide-like peels from guitar. Denson collaborates on many projects from his own trio, KD3, to gigs with Lenny Kravitz, Steve Winwood, and Stanton Moore while doing solo work and keeping busy with Greyboy Allstars. Karl just stepped back into his U-verse after a road trip with reggae-inspired Slightly Stoopid, touring with 311.

Members of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe include Denson (saxophone, flute), Ron Johnson (bass), Chris Littlefield (trumpet), Brian Jordan (guitar), David Veith (keyboards) and John Staten (drums). Newest guitar player D.J. Williams joined in the summer of 2011. During their hiatus to '08, Chris Littlefield did an electronica project called Blue Sirkut. D.J. Williams is working on his eponymously named project.

Karl Denson demonstrated his versatility onstage as he ran the gamut of sounds in the jazz and funk spectrum. Leading off with a pair of his compositions with vocals, "My Baby," and, "Because of her Beauty," the group set the mood early with high energy jams. Then a foray into widespread sounds with covers of the Beastie Boys', "Pow," a flute-looped rockin' "Sure Shot" and then a David "Fathead" Newman cover, "Front Money." The group knows few bounds as they pulled an abstract Seventies "Apres Ski" goody out of the crate, the work of their bassist, Johnson, nicknamed "American Digger." Herbie Hancock melodies seemed to waft the air. As usual, the lighting and sound of The Capitol Theatre inspired the players as they made obvious mention of the fact that they loved the environment. And back they came to popular by ripping an electric White Stripes "Seven Nation Army." Denson closed out by joining the Roots and SNL's Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Liebrum for their memorable tribute to "Purple Rain," by Prince. Denson and his Tiny Universe definitely took their setlist to Mars with an impressive display of the their capabilities.

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