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Hey guys,

I've recently being trying to emulate Kenny Garrett's tone in my own playing. So far I've been really opening my throat more than usual, adding Kenny's pitch bends and inflections and a lot of the falls that he adds to the end of his notes.

Does anyone have any other suggestions about specifically obtaining this unique style?

P.s. I am not looking to change my setup to match Kenny Garrett's gear. I'm simply talking about mouth, throat, embrochure mechanics/position etc.

Cheers!
 

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My opinion the very best way to kind of match a valued players sound is A. Listen to them alot, but dont listen casually - listen intently. listen to all the little things. and listen over and over. B. Transcribe some of your favorite solos or passages from him.

That is the bet advice can give on getting close - or picking up some of the traits.
 

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I think you've got the right idea, and I have nothing to offer except to amplify Bill C's advice: listen obsessively and constantly, transcribe, emulate. With your transcriptions, play along and really dig into every aspect of his approach -- his inflections, time feel, etc. Just shadow him utterly and completely.

(And I'm downright moved -- oughta have tears in my eyes -- that you're not looking to just buy a Selmer Soloist or try to find one of those Brilhart ligs or whatever: you're on the right track by focusing on his playing and not his equipment...)
 

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I'm curious..........How would you guys describe Garrett's tone? I've always thought of it as hollow and nasally sounding. It's hard for me to describe it as bright or dark. I've never been a big fan of it but I have all his albums because I love his playing. I'm just wondering how you all describe it...........
 

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How would you guys describe Garrett's tone?
"Amazing"!!!


His setup is quite "extreme" (0,096" tip opening, high beak Soloist-type mouthpiece, #3,5 reeds)... not for everybody.
The secret of Kenny's sound doesn't stand only in the setup... but I think rather impossible to get out that sound from a Meyer-style mouthpice, with medium tip opening, with medium or medium-to-hard reeds.
 

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"Amazing"!!!


His setup is quite "extreme" (0,096" tip opening, high beak Soloist-type mouthpiece, #3,5 reeds)... not for everybody.
The secret of Kenny's sound doesn't stand only in the setup... but I think rather impossible to get out that sound from a Meyer-style mouthpice, with medium tip opening, with medium or medium-to-hard reeds.
Amazing isn't really a description that is specific. What about it is amazing? How would you describe it? I have a Soloist on it's way to me now and I've been told it has a Garrett type vibe to it so I'm curious to see what kind of sound I get out of it...........
 

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I'm curious..........How would you guys describe Garrett's tone? I've always thought of it as hollow and nasally sounding. It's hard for me to describe it as bright or dark. I've never been a big fan of it but I have all his albums because I love his playing. I'm just wondering how you all describe it...........
Hard & dry, almost "brittle" sounding, very unapproachable. I don't really like it at all, but I'm in your camp re. his playing - he's full-on, balls-to-the-wall all the time, really intense. Kind of the Bob Berg of the alto in that respect...
 

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I'm curious..........How would you guys describe Garrett's tone? I've always thought of it as hollow and nasally sounding. It's hard for me to describe it as bright or dark. I've never been a big fan of it but I have all his albums because I love his playing. I'm just wondering how you all describe it...........
Great question! "Nasally" is indeed probably the first term that comes to mind for me. I've heard other folks call his tone dark, which isn't the word I'd have used -- for me he falls somewhere outside of the dark-bright spectrum. ("Hollow" is an interesting way to put it -- I have to ponder that...)

I think rather impossible to get out that sound from a Meyer-style mouthpice, with medium tip opening, with medium or medium-to-hard reeds.
Fer what it's worth, I went through a period of Garrett lust where some folks, whose playing I really admire, told me they really dug the "Garrett vibe" I was getting. These were folks I'd met who didn't know me and hadn't played with me before and knew nothing about my interest in Garrett -- and I was playing on a Phil-tone Meyer type piece. (However, by "vibe" they weren't necessarily talking tone -- but I was certainly trying to grab some KG's harmonic approach and ... what?, let's say "aggressiveness.")

A couple of years ago I was working on Coltrane's Take the Coltrane solo on alto, using Amazing Slow Downer to pitch shift Trane, and was definitely struck (and a bit surprised) by some resonance with Garrett's sound -- there was that "nasal" thing, and even some of the inflections called KG to mind...
 

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I suppose I could describe Kenny's sound as fat and broad. It has a bite, yet is not thin or reedy to my ears. It does not have the sweetness that you hear from many classic alto players, it is more bittersweet with a tang, slightly astringent.

It reminds me of some great Belgian beers. There is a complexity and a lingering tartness in the aftertaste. They do not have the sweetness of a lager, yet are highly appealing.

I love Garrett's sound. I find it very highly individual and personal. With most players I feel as if I can almost isolate certain elements of their playing- tone, technique, phrasing, ideas, etc. and evaluate them as separate components. Perhaps it is because of his great musicianship and passion, that in some way it seems so tied to his approach as a complete package that I cannot separate it on its own. It is just his voice. Somehow it just seems perfect.
 

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When I say nasally it's becasue the tone reminds me of when I speak and then clamp my nose shut and speak. Something about his tone reminds me of that. I've also had someone the other day say "What mouthpiece should I get for that dark Kennt Garrett type tone?" I was surprised becasue I never think it sounds dark. But it's not really bright either. Kind of in the middle.
 

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Dry. Bone dry. Like a wail; very deep, but not heavy.

Here's the scene...a bone dry well with a wolf at the bottom howling up at the moon, dying to escape to hunt.
 

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I like your way of describing his sound.

To me...his alto sound is "throaty"...and he gets the "cry" out of his alto....something which not many alto players can do.




Dry. Bone dry. Like a wail; very deep, but not heavy.

Here's the scene...a bone dry well with a wolf at the bottom howling up at the moon, dying to escape to hunt.
 

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I always thought he sounded like what Coltrane would have sounded like on alto if he had played it in his later years. I love Garrett's aggressive sound.
 

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When I was in music school I spent a summer away from the alto, but listening to Kenny Garrett just about every day, mostly Persuance. When I came back for auditions, and back to the alto, there was his sound, coming out of my horn. I hadn't changed my setup, same Meyer 6M, same reeds, but there it was. It was the strangest thing. People commented on it, they could tell what I spent my summer listening to. Now only if that worked for his technique too.

So from my own experience, listen to his music so much and so attentively that you have a perfect "mind's ear" image of his sound.
 

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A couple of years ago I was working on Coltrane's Take the Coltrane solo on alto, using Amazing Slow Downer to pitch shift Trane, and was definitely struck (and a bit surprised) by some resonance with Garrett's sound -- there was that "nasal" thing, and even some of the inflections called KG to mind...
Just to demonstrate what I'm talking about: here's the first bit of Take The Coltrane, pitch-shifted up from the tenor's key of G to the alto's key of G. To my ears, especially in the lower register, it's nasally and Garrettesque:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/5627085/ttc+5.mp3
 

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Open throat, lots of mouthpiece in the mouth, those are the keys. Oh yeah, push in and relax jaw to get the pitch down where it belongs. You will never get that type of sound with a tight embouchure or a constricted throat.

Nefertiti, I Am surprised at your comments, especially after listening to so many of your mouthpiece examples. There is no accounting for taste, but for me Kenny Garrett has the best sound of any living alto player. His sound (not just tone, but sound) is rival led only by Cannonball's. Of course this is MY opinion and taste :)
 

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for me Kenny Garrett has the best sound of any living alto player. His sound (not just tone, but sound) is rival led only by Cannonball's. Of course this is MY opinion and taste :)
I also LOVE his sound! Not sure if I'd call it The Best, because I also LOVE the utterly different sound of Dick Oatts! But: hugs & kisses from me for Kenny's sound...
 

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When I played more alto a few years back, I went through a KG phase. I was doing it on a meyer6. Like others have said, lots of air, a very open throat, and for me i had to push my lower jaw out. .
I think of his sound as right in the middle of the spectrum but with an amazingly sharp outer contour/very clearly defined. I found the other non-tone sound things interesting, his attacks, the way he really manhandles the sound like you have to on tenor, yet he makes it work. Hearing about his massive set-up, this makes more sense to me now. There's also his lack on vibrato, very few people get away with that lack of warmth yet he has a way of shading the notes...count me a fan!
 

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Just to demonstrate what I'm talking about: here's the first bit of Take The Coltrane, pitch-shifted up from the tenor's key of G to the alto's key of G. To my ears, especially in the lower register, it's nasally and Garrettesque:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/5627085/ttc+5.mp3
Wow, I do hear Kenny Garrett in that sound. That's interesting.........


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I always felt that there are moments in the KG-Pursuance: Music of Coltrane disc where he sounds very Trane-ish. Some of it is the energy and the musical ideas, but there is also something in the sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETO92Ok7j9I

To my ears, he also sounds a little different live than how he is captured on recordings
 
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