Kenny Garrett

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Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett.jpg
Background information
Born(1960-10-09) October 9, 1960 (age 54)
Detroit, Michigan United States
GenresJazz, post bop, jazz fusion
Years active1978–present
LabelsAtlantic, Warner Bros, Mack Avenue, Criss Cross Jazz
Associated actsFive Peace Band, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey, Marcus Miller
WebsiteOfficial site
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Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett.jpg
Background information
Born(1960-10-09) October 9, 1960 (age 54)
Detroit, Michigan United States
GenresJazz, post bop, jazz fusion
Years active1978–present
LabelsAtlantic, Warner Bros, Mack Avenue, Criss Cross Jazz
Associated actsFive Peace Band, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey, Marcus Miller
WebsiteOfficial site

Kenny Garrett (born October 9, 1960)[1] is a Grammy Award-winning American post bop jazz saxophonist and flautist who gained fame in his youth as a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and of Miles Davis's band. He has since pursued a successful solo career and has been described as "...The most important alto saxophonist of his generation" by Washington City Paper[2] and "...One of the most admired alto saxophonists in jazz after Charlie Parker" by The New York Times.[3]


Kenny Garrett was born in Detroit, Michigan, on October 9, 1960; he is a 1978 graduate of Mackenzie High School. His father was a carpenter who played tenor saxophone as a hobby. Garrett's own career as a saxophonist took off when he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1978,[4] then led by Duke's son, Mercer Ellington. Three years later he played in the Mel Lewis Orchestra, playing the music of Thad Jones, and also the Dannie Richmond Quartet, focusing on Charles Mingus's music.

In 1984, he recorded his first album as a bandleader, Introducing Kenny Garrett, on the CrissCross label. He then recorded two albums with Atlantic Records: Prisoner of Love and African Exchange Student. Garrett signed to the Warner Bros. Records label, and beginning with Black Hope, in 1992,[4] he has continued to record with them. Among his recordings on Warner Bros. are Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane, recorded in 1996, and Songbook, his first album made up entirely of his own compositions, recorded in 1997 and nominated for a Grammy Award. During his career, Garrett has performed and recorded with many jazz greats such as Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Brad Mehldau, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Brian Blade, Marcus Miller, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones, and Mulgrew Miller. Garrett's music sometimes exhibits Asian influences, an aspect which is especially prevalent in his 2006 Grammy-nominated recording, Beyond the Wall.[5]

While Garrett is best known in many circles for the five years he spent playing with Miles Davis during Davis's electric period, he states that he has become accustomed to the association:

"I was in Miles' band for about five years. I think that tag will always be there. That is five years of my life. That's the only musical situation that I was there longer than a year. It was a good five years. I have gotten used to that. Some people became aware of me through Miles and then they would come to my concerts. I think that is part of my history and I am proud of that. I am still trying to carve out my own name and my own music. I just look at it as a part of history and it is going to be there. Every time they mention Kenny Garrett, there will probably be some association with Miles Davis, but at the same time, when they mention Herbie Hancock, they always mention Miles Davis, or Wayne Shorter. You get used to it after a while." (

Christian McBride, John McLaughlin, Vinnie Colaiuta and Kenny Garrett Photo: Pierre Corbucci

Garrett's live album Sketches of MD: Live at the Iridium, featuring Pharoah Sanders, was released on September 23, 2008. On his website,, he stated that his current band at the time consisted of electric bass and organ.

Garrett performed in a world tour in 2008–2009 with Corea, McLaughlin, Christian McBride and Blade/Vinnie Colaiuta as the "Five Peace Band". The CD Five Peace Band – Live won a Grammy Award on January 31, 2010.[6]

On May 7, 2011, Garrett was presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts. Garrett was the Commencement Speaker.[7] There were 908 graduates – the largest graduating class in Berklee history. The commencement ceremony took place at the Agganis Arena (Boston University). Four thousand people attended.

On October 15, 2012, Garrett received a Soul Train Award nomination for his 2012 studio album Seeds from the Underground in the Best Traditional Jazz Artist/Group category.[8] On December 5, 2012, two Grammy nominations for Seeds from the Underground followed in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo categories.[9] On December 11, 2012, Seeds From The Underground received a NAACP Image Award nomination in the Outstanding Jazz Album category.[10] On April 5, 2013, Mack Avenue Records announced that Garrett won an Echo Award in the Saxophonist of the Year category.[11]

On September 17, 2013, Garrett released his second studio album for Mack Avenue Records, Pushing the World Away. The album received a Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category[12] in December of the same year. Garrett also won the 2013 DownBeat Readers Poll for the second consecutive year, which brought his total number of wins in the Alto Saxophone category to 8.


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Geri Allen

With Art Blakey

With Miles Davis

With Marcus Miller

With Woody Shaw

With other artists (selected)

Awards and nominations[edit]

1996WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone[13]
1997WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone[14]
1997WonDownBeat Readers PollJazz Album of the Year[14]Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane
1997NominatedGrammy AwardBest Jazz Instrumental Performance[15]Songbook
1998WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone[16]
1999WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone[17]
2006NominatedGrammy AwardBest Jazz Instrumental Album[18]Beyond the Wall
2009WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone[19]
2010WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone[20]
2010WonGrammy AwardBest Jazz Instrumental AlbumFive Peace Band - Live
2012NominatedGrammy AwardBest Jazz Instrumental AlbumSeeds from the Underground
2012NominatedGrammy AwardBest Improvised Jazz Solo"J. Mac"
2012NominatedNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Jazz AlbumSeeds from the Underground
2012NominatedSoul Train AwardBest Traditional Jazz Artist/GroupSeeds from the Underground
2012NominatedJazz AwardsAlto Saxophonist of the Year
2012WonEcho AwardSaxophonist of the Year[21]
2012WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone[22]
2013WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone[23]
2013NominatedGrammy AwardBest Jazz Instrumental AlbumPushing the World Away

Chart positions[edit]

Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1989)[24]20Prisoner of Love
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1990)[25]5African Exchange Student
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1992)[26]6Black Hope
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1995)[27]22Triology
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1996)[28]10Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1997)[29]7Songbook
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1999)[30]20Simply Said
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2002)[31]19Happy People
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2003)[32]11Standard of Language
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2006)[33]13Beyond the Wall
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2008)[34]11Sketches of MD
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2012)[35]10Seeds from the Underground
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2013)[36]6Pushing the World Away


  1. ^ Gilbert, Mark; Kennedy, Gary (2002). "Garrett, Kenny". In Barry Kernfeld. The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1-56159-284-6. 
  2. ^ "Kenny Garrett, Washington City Paper, May. 31, 2012". 
  3. ^ "Kenny Garrett, New York Times, August 25, 2013". 
  4. ^ a b Skelly, Richard. "Kenny Garrett: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  5. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2006 Grammy Award Nomination". 
  6. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2009 Grammy Award". 
  7. ^ "Kenny Garrett Honorary Doctorate/Commencement Speech at Berklee". 
  8. ^ "Kenny Garrett Soul Train Award Nomination". 
  9. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2012 Grammy Award Nomination". 
  10. ^ "Kenny Garrett NAACP Image Award Nomination". 
  11. ^ "Kenny Garrett Echo Award Win". 
  12. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2013 Grammy Award Nomination". 
  13. ^ "Kenny Garrett 1996 DownBeat Readers Poll Win". 
  14. ^ a b "Kenny Garrett 1997 DownBeat Readers Poll Win". 
  15. ^ "Kenny Garrett 1997 Grammy Nomination". 
  16. ^ "Kenny Garrett 1998 DownBeat Readers Poll Win". 
  17. ^ "Kenny Garrett 1999 DownBeat Readers Poll Win". 
  18. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2006 Grammy Nomination". 
  19. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2009 DownBeat Readers Poll Win". 
  20. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2010 DownBeat Readers Poll Win". 
  21. ^ "Kenny Garrett Jazz Award Nomination". 
  22. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2012 DownBeat Readers Poll Win". 
  23. ^ "Kenny Garrett 2013 DownBeat Readers Poll Win". 
  24. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 1989". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 1989. 
  25. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 1990". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 1990. 
  26. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 1992". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 1992. 
  27. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 1995". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 1995. 
  28. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 1996". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 1996. 
  29. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 1997". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 1997. 
  30. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 1999". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 1999. 
  31. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 2002". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2002. 
  32. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 2003". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2003. 
  33. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 2006". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2006. 
  34. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, 2008". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2008. 
  35. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, June 25, 2012". Retrieved June 25, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Billboard Jazz Albums, October 5, 2013". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved October 5, 2013. 

External links[edit]