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Album Review

The New Ammo version of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe consists of a four-horn front line: his sax and flute, trumpeter Chris Littlefield, trombonist Andy Geib, and baritone saxophonist Daniel De La Cruz. The lineup also includes David Veith on B-3 and Rhodes piano, D.J. Williams on guitar, and drummer John Staten. This set is tight, yet all over the place. Three tunes are thoroughly re-visioned, funked-up arrangements of cues from exploitation films. Opener "Grenadiers" comes from Bill Loose's score for Russ Meyer's Cherry, Harry & Raquel. It's a cut-time groover with knotty interlocking rhythms, a grinding, dirty-ass guitar vamp, punchy horns, and a wailing sax solo by Denson. "The Duel" by Lenny Stack from the 1970 biker flick C.C. and Company has an ugly bassline, surfadelic guitar, and a B-3 worthy of Steppenwolf's "Sookie Sookie." A massive working of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" riff commences "My Baby." The song combines barroom blues, grimy, rocking slide guitar, and Stax-style horns. It also features a Denson vocal duet with the Gramblers' Nicki Bluhm. The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" is a stomper here, a showcase for Denson's strutting flute, with frequent collaborator Robert Walter guesting to deliver a killer Rhodes break. A reading of the Beastie Boys' "Sure Shot" weds spunky flute, upright bass, soul-jazz guitar, B-3, and a truckload of rim shots. The title cut, "Everybody Knows That," and "Cheerleader" are old-school KDTU slammers; their snare-kick drum imprint is right up front with the horns. Chris Stillwell's excellent "Malgorium" could just as easily have been an Isaac Hayes-charted film cue. Its labyrinthine structure contains a beautiful organ solo by Veith before it extends as a jazz-funk workout. Closer "Odysseus" is an older jam that highlights the band's formidable jazz chops. Commencing with a slow yet knotty head, it gradually develops into a simmering jazz-funk groove (evoking the charts of Johnny Pate). Old friend Mike Dillon contributes two brilliant vibes solos to this track featuring floating Rhodes, choppy horns, bubbling basslines, angular melodic changes in several sections (think Frank Zappa), and a screaming guitar break by Williams that ratchets up the intensity before Denson's horn roars it out. KDTU's unmistakable dance band roots are readily apparent on New Ammo, but it's easily their most musically adventurous album.

Customer Reviews

He does it again!!

To start, Grenadiers is the punch you in the face kind of track you need to start an album! Love the original Karl sound but with some "Here come the mummies" Reggae creepiness. A MUST OWN!

Great Funky album!

This is my first full album purchase of this artist and the entire recording is awesome! Very funky and upbeat, I highly recommend it!

After Hours Delight

We saw thwem in an after hours show @ The Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival & were BLOWEN AWAY! Tight, Funky & Infectious! The setting was all wrong, a basement of the Waterfront Marriott. A wide open, low ceoling conference room. Or hold it, I guess that funky setting blended well with this avanguard original music. Once Karl & the band started playing, we totally forgot how bous the room was & were entranced by the grooves.... They were followed by Allen Stone who was the perfect aftermath. Sort of like a long ongoing orgasm.... ahhhhhh

New Ammo, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
View in iTunes

Customer Ratings