Any album is a document of not only where that artist is at, but also where he or she has been. Case in point: New Ammo, the latest high-energy LP from funky jam-band saxophonist Karl Denson. The driving, horncentric title track sounds like something that Denson’s old boss, James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley, could have been involved with. And on a cover of Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Up to Dry,” you can hear the influence of another former employer, Lenny Kravitz.
But Denson isn’t using the past as a crutch; he’s using what he’s learned to create a sound that’s entirely his, and putting his stamp on more unexpected tunes. The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” for instance, is delivered with acoustic bass and flute. To celebrate the release of Ammo, which arrives on Feb 4, Denson settles in at Brooklyn Bowl for a star-studded three-night stand. On Jan 23 he’ll be joined by hip-hop heroes Rahzel and Big Daddy Kane. The Jan 24 bill features New Orleans funk heir Ivan Neville. And on Jan 25, vocalists Zach Deputy and John Oates—yes, of Hall & Oates—lend a hand.—Brad Farberman