Kenny Garrett

Last updated
Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett (2013).jpg
Kenny Garrett performing in 2013
Background information
Born (1960-10-09) October 9, 1960 (age 62)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Genres Jazz, post-bop, jazz fusion
InstrumentsAlto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Years active1978–present
Labels Atlantic Jazz, Warner Bros, Mack Avenue, Criss Cross Jazz

Kenny Garrett (born October 9, 1960) is an American post-bop jazz musician and composer who gained recognition in his youth as a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and for his time with Miles Davis's band. His primary instruments are alto and soprano saxophone and flute. Since 1985, he has pursued a solo career.



Kenny Garrett was born in Detroit, Michigan, on October 9, 1960. [1] His father was a carpenter who played tenor saxophone as a hobby. [1] Garrett's own career as a saxophonist took off when he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, under the leadership of Mercer Ellington, in 1978. [1] Garrett also played and recorded with Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Woody Shaw before developing his career as a leader. [1]

In 1984, Garrett recorded his first album as a bandleader, Introducing Kenny Garrett , on the CrissCross label. [2] In the year, he became the founding member of Out of the Blue which was produced by Blue Note Records. [3] In 1986, Garrett became a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

He signed to the Warner Bros. Records label, and beginning with Black Hope , in 1992, [1] he recorded eight albums for them. [2] Garrett's music sometimes exhibits Asian influences, an aspect which is especially prevalent in his 2006 Grammy-nominated recording Beyond the Wall. [2]

Christian McBride, John McLaughlin, Vinnie Colaiuta and Garrett in 2008 Five Peace Band.jpg
Christian McBride, John McLaughlin, Vinnie Colaiuta and Garrett in 2008

Garrett joined the "Five Peace Band" of Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Christian McBride and Brian Blade/Vinnie Colaiuta around 2008. [1] The CD Five Peace Band – Live won a Grammy Award in 2010. [4]

In 2011, Garrett was presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts. [5] Garrett also was the Commencement Speaker for graduates. [5]

In 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. [6] Also in 2012, Grammy nominations for Seeds from the Underground followed in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo categories, [4] and Seeds From The Underground received a NAACP Image Award nomination in the Outstanding Jazz Album category. [7] In 2013, Garrett won an Echo Award in the Saxophonist of the Year category. [8]

Garrett's Pushing the World Away album received a Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category in 2013. [9]

Garrett has been a resident of Glen Ridge, New Jersey. [10]



Garrett was described as "The most important alto saxophonist of his generation" by the Washington City Paper [12] and "One of the most admired alto saxophonists in jazz after Charlie Parker" by The New York Times . [13]


As leader/co-leader


As a member

Out of the Blue

Manhattan projects

General Music Project (G. M. Project)
Co-leader with Charnett Moffett

As sideman

With Donald Byrd

With Chick Corea

With Miles Davis

With Roy Haynes

With Freddie Hubbard

With Marcus Miller

With Mulgrew Miller

With Charnett Moffett

  • Beauty Within (Blue Note, 1989)
  • Evidence (Telarc, 1993)

With Woody Shaw

With Mike Stern

With Jeff "Tain" Watts

With others


Awards and nominations

1996Won DownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [14]
1997WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [15]
1997WonDownBeat Readers PollJazz Album of the Year [15] Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane
1998Nominated Grammy Award Best Jazz Instrumental Performance [16] Chick Corea Remembering Bud Powell
1998NominatedGrammy AwardBest Jazz Instrumental Performance [16] Songbook
1998WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [17]
1999WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [18]
2002Nominated Grammy Award Best Jazz Instrumental Album [16] Roy Haynes Birds of a Feather: A Tribute to Charlie Parker
2007Nominated Grammy Award Best Jazz Instrumental Album [16] [19] Beyond the Wall
2009WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [20]
2010WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [21]
2010Won Grammy Award Best Jazz Instrumental Album [16] Chick Corea & John McLaughlin Five Peace Band – Five Peace Band Live
2012Nominated NAACP Image Award Outstanding Jazz Album Seeds from the Underground
2012Nominated Soul Train Awards Best Traditional Jazz Artist/GroupSeeds from the Underground
2012WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [22]
2013Nominated Grammy Award Best Jazz Instrumental Album [16] Seeds from the Underground
2013NominatedGrammy AwardBest Improvised Jazz Solo [16] "J. Mac" in Seeds from the Underground
2013Won Echo Award Best International Jazz Saxophone PerformanceSeeds from the Underground
2013Nominated JJA Jazz Awards Alto Saxophonist of the Year [23]
2013WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [24]
2014Nominated Grammy Award Best Jazz Instrumental Album [16] Pushing the World Away
2014Nominated Soul Train Awards Best Traditional Jazz PerformancePushing the World Away
2014WonDownBeat Critics PollAlto Saxophone
2014WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone
2017WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [25]
2019WonDownBeat Readers PollAlto Saxophone [26]

Chart positions

Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1989) [27] 20Prisoner of Love
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1990) [28] 5African Exchange Student
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1992) [29] 6 Black Hope
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1995) [30] 22Triology
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1996) [31] 10Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1997) [32] 7 Songbook
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (1999) [33] 20Simply Said
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2002) [34] 19Happy People
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2003) [35] 11Standard of Language
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2006) [36] 13 Beyond the Wall
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2008) [37] 11 Sketches of MD: Live at the Iridium
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2012) [38] 10 Seeds from the Underground
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2013) [39] 6 Pushing the World Away
Billboard Top Jazz Albums (2016) [40] 24Do Your Dance!

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