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The Funky Coast P2.

 September 30, 2022 at 8:59 PM PDT

S1: Welcome to the KPBS summer music scene. In this episode , we'll talk to saxophone player , flutist and vocalist Khalil Dance. The tours regularly with the Rolling Stones has collaborated with Lenny Kravitz and the Allman Brothers and is well known for his many solo projects. And. Wow.

S2: Wow. Wow. Sure.

S1: Sure. Fire solar ensembles share their unique blend of jazz , funk and soul with special live performance in the KPBS studio. One.

S2: One.

S1: Welcome to the KPBS summer music series. San Diego's own Music Discovery podcast that features encore presentations of our best in-studio performances and interviews celebrating our diverse music scene and beyond. I'm your host , Kurt Conal. Saxophone player , flutist and vocalist Carl Denson is well known in San Diego as one of the founding members of the Grey Boy All-Stars. He also has album credits with the Allman Brothers , Slightly Stoopid and Black , Delicious , to name a few. On top of that , he leads his own band , Carl Benson's Tiny Universe. Midday Edition's Jane Hindman spoke with Carl Denson in 2019 , right after the release of his album Gnomes and Badgers , a multi-genre dance party with a message from James Brown inspired in the pocket funk and soul to foot stomping blues and the spontaneous spirit of jazz. Here's that interview.

S3: Carl , thanks for joining us on Midday Edition.

S4: Thanks , Jade.

S3: Your new album has an all star lineup , including Chuck Lavelle , keyboardist for Rolling Stones and Allman Brothers , New Orleans guitar legend Anders Osborne. A very eclectic sound , very intriguing title Gnomes and Badgers.

S4: It's about people communicating love , hey , you know , all the all that stuff. But the gnomes and badgers idea just came up from a throwaway title from the Grey Boy All-Stars that I thought would be a great kind of a conversation starter to get people thinking about communication.


S4: I think it has I think it has the potential. You know , everybody is listening the same music. So we got to we got to get , you know , a lot of different musicians from different genres kind of on the same page , I think , to to help pull people back towards the center of of just being human. And , you know , and I think if we could do a little bit better job with our maybe our religious leaders being a little bit more clear about what's really going on , that would help also.

S3: And I heard a song of yours change my way.

S4: You know , and the idea of change my way is , is it really is about the the first thing you see in the video as far as text goes , is behind the strangers. They might be angels. And that I got from a Bible scripture , you know , about entertaining angels and not knowing who you're actually dealing with. And , you know , just like the Mother Teresa , what I do for these people , I'm doing for Christ kind of idea. And that's really what I'm trying to get people to think about. You know , that tribalism is leading us to be really selfish and we need to stop that.

S3: So you really are trying to use your music to inspire people to do and live better ? Yeah.

S4: Yeah , exactly.

UU: Israel has been Bamba. The place where we railway. Do you think he was.

S2: The only one ? You may.

S3: Take us back to what led you here. You had previously worked on Soul Train , just finished five years recording and touring with Lenny Kravitz , and then around 1992 co-founded the Grey Boy All-Stars and began your solo career as well. Tell us about that time in San Diego music.

S4: I was I was touring with Lenny Kravitz , and I had just gotten my my jazz record deal in Europe when D.J. Gray Boy and I recorded a song called Unwind Your Mind. And it was a dance track and. I went back to Europe touring and I hear my , my tune on the on the the dance clubs and. And then I left Lenny Kravitz to do my own thing. At the end of 93 , came home and deejay Grey Boy was putting a band together to play his record release party for freestyling. And I walked into a garage and there were the Great Boy All-Stars. And instantly we were like , Wow , we sound pretty good. So we started playing at this club down in downtown , and it was a little tiny club , the Green Circle , and it became all the rage for for a generation of people.

S3: Your work with San Diego legends like the Grey Boy All-Stars influenced our current music scene from soul jazz to hip hop , and the Tiny Universe helped give way to the jam band scene with such a diverse background and skills.

S4: You know , I'm a jazz guy by from a at heart , but it's always been with a healthy dose of funk and dance. So I just I like dance music. Right.

S3: Right. And sometimes that's difficult to do with jazz , right ? To kind of just get people on the floor dancing.

S4: Well , I just think people don't think of it together. But if you go back to the history of jazz , the roots of jazz is dance. You know , Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton , those guys were making people dance. That was their job. So I just , you know , tried to get back to that tradition in my mind.

S3: You wear many hats as a touring musician , a session musician and a father of three.

S4: I mean , if you're if you're living and breathing , then something should change from year to year. And I definitely am trying to , you know , absorb all I can. Right.

S3: Right. It's it's a lot to juggle. And you also seeing play saxophone and flute. Is that difficult to write songs for all three ? No.

S4: You know what ? I just mainly I write songs and the the instrument comes way later in the process. So I really consider myself a composer first and foremost. So , you know , whether I sing or whether I play saxophone , the song will dictate that.

S3: All right. And you tour around the world , but keep coming back to San Diego.

S4: I'm a I'm a Southern California. And , you know , I've traveled around the world , but when I come home , there's nothing better than this place. And I think we just have a fortunate convergence , you know , when when the great boils are started , that we actually were on the same page and kind of created this this musical genre. You know , we we call it West Coast Boogaloo. That's the name of the first great Boy Allstars record. And it's really a real thing that we have that other places don't have.

S3: All right. And back to your new album.

S4: But I think you'll find , you know , hopefully they're inspiring and they'll make you , you know , be nicer to people. That's what I would like people to get from the record.

S3: All right , Carl Denson , thank you so much for stopping by.

S4: Thank you , Jeff.

UU: Well , I'm supposed. As for down. Better to lose this long down. Grab a pen and draw eyes from the sunshine. Lisa.

S2: Lisa. In that space , in that.

UU: Sacred place. What ? Long live.

S2: Ivory Coast and.

UU: I'm feeling strong. To my school. Yes.

S2: Yes.

S4: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

UU: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Okay. I'm. I.

S1: Welcome back to the KPBS Summer Music Series. They may not be your typical San Diego band , but they're all about SD. Just check out the names of their songs , like I'd Be Strutting and Strolling. Adams , the Sure Fire Soul Ensemble play the sound of San Diego in a way that you've never heard before. With a little more soul and a lot more funk. Midday Edition's Maureen CAVANAUGH talks with the band. But first we hear their song , City Heights.

S3: There is City Heights by the Sure Fire Soul Ensemble. And the members of the Sure Fire Soul Ensemble are Jesse Ighodalo. He plays sax and flute , Cheryl Felton on hand percussion. Pete Williams on drums. Matt Le Barber Bass. Nick Costa guitar. Robert Dove tenor sax. Diego Velasquez percussion. And Tim Felton is the bandleader and keyboardist. Tim and Jesse are here to sit down and talk a little bit about the band and. Hello. Hello.

S5: Hello. Thanks for.

S3: Having us. Now , Tim Felton has been working on and off at KPBS for several years. We worked together for a long time. Tim , it's great to see you.

S5: Oh , great to see you , too. Thanks for having us.

S3: Oh , we don't know much about this musical life of yours , though.

S5: Well , this is my primary band right here , eight piece instrumental funk soul group.

S3: And Tim , I've heard that you describe the band's sound as cinematic soul. I spent a long time talking about how this is perhaps not your standard San Diego sounding band. It's not indie. It's not what you think of as a San Diego sound. But this you think of as , you know , really based here in San Diego.

S5: Oh , well , it's based in the late sixties and early seventies , kind of , you know , the soundtrack music of of the period. Quincy Jones and Curtis Mayfield. Marvin Gaye. You know , there they were doing soundtrack work. Herbie Hancock.


S5: And so one of my biggest influences was Maceo Parker , who played with James Brown for years. And now he , you know , tours the world as probably the premier funk saxophonist , you know , as well as jazz influences. I studied here at San Diego State's Jazz Studies , so I draw a lot from any any kind of jazz influence. I like modern players. As far as playing flute , that was a completely different arena for me. I've never really heard flute played like this before , so I really drew on the style of Herbie Mann and and even Tanya goes , Call Dance. And I love the way he plays flute.

S3: Now , we just heard a tune called City Heights. You'll be playing Strolling Atoms in a minute.

S5: I mean , I've lived here for like half my life now , eight years and for a long time , about nine years with Cheryl and I lived on near Adams Avenue. So that that part of town , Normal Heights , City Heights. And then one of my favorite places to go hang out is Imperial Beach during the surfing season.


S5: Yeah. I don't like to go there after it rains , because , you know , it's a little so dirty yellow.

S3: More funky than your music.

S5: A little too funky for us. For me.


S5: And the music absolutely influences you'll hear even now on mainstream radio , you know , influences from previous decades. And so people really flock to that , especially hearing this big raw sound like we heard in the studio just now , having an eight piece band. You know , the power of it is just unmatched.

S3: It is unmatched. And I'm going to ask you to do it again. Sure.

S2: Sure.

S3: You're going to be doing another sure. Fire Soul ensemble tune off their debut album called Stolen Atoms. Wow.

S2: Wow.

UU: Wow , wow. Wow. Wow , wow. Wow. One. One.

S2: Why ? Why ? Why , why ? 1010101.

UU: I am. House. Wow. Wow , wow. I want to know why. One.

S2: One.

UU: We ? I want. Wow. Wow.

S3: Thank you again that was stolen Adams by the sure fire sale ensemble. And sitting down with me again Tim Felton and Jesse Idolo.

S5: Sometimes I'll get an email from Tim saying , Hey , I have this idea for a track. I recorded a little something. Can you put some horns on top of that ? There's a few of our newer tracks and our next album is going to come out with tracks like that. So it's it's a mix process kind of.

S3: No sound , no singer. That's a conscious decision to do. Yeah.

S2: Yeah.


S5: We've heard we've rehearsed with with one. And we'll probably get her in doing a few cover songs first and then , you know , maybe write some songs. And I also like I've liked hip hop for a long time , so maybe work with some some emcee vocalists as well.

S3: Your first album was released earlier this year , got an extra special good status from City B.

S5: I think it was a long time coming , actually. The band had been together for quite a while and and the public , our fans were kind of demanding something solid , you know. So coming out with that album was really a great stepping stone and it gave us a lot of forward momentum going into the next coming on. And we're already thinking ahead to the two that.


S5: Explore other genres like reggae , even slower tempo tunes , different instrumentations , a little more , like I said , experimentation.

S3: Tim You know , I started this out saying that you and I have worked together and I'm just wondering , what do you get out of the music ? Music is your first love , obviously.

S5: It's like having a big family when you when you get all in a in a van and you're traveling to San Francisco or wherever you're going , it's just it's just a lot of fun and , you know , just great times.

S3: Great times , good times. Well , it was good times having you here. You're leaving us with a final tune called The Hunt. Thanks to Tim Felton , Jesse Ighodalo and all the members of the band. Once again , this is the Sure Fire's Soul Ensemble. A Sure Fire solar ensemble will be performing next Tuesday , June 30th at The Hideout on El Cajon Boulevard. Or you can catch them on the first Saturday of every month at seven Grand in North Park. Be sure to watch KPBS Evening Edition at five and again at 630 tonight on KPBS television. Join us again tomorrow for discussions on Midday Edition right here on KPBS FM. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. Thank you for listening.

UU: One day. Wow. Wow , wow , wow. Wow. Wow.

S2: Wow. Wow , wow. Wow.

UU: Wow. Wow. Wow , wow. One more. Wow.

S2: Wow. Wow.

UU: Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

S1: Thanks for listening to the KPBS summer music series. John Decker is Interim Associate General Manager of Content. Lisa Jane Morissette , operations manager. And Megan Burke is senior producer. To catch a new episode every two weeks , subscribe wherever you get podcasts and for performance videos and more great artists. Visit KPBS Dawgs Summer Music Series. I'm Kurt Cobain.

S2: I was. Wow. Wow , wow , wow. Wow. Wow , wow , wow.

Saxophone player, flutist and vocalist Karl Denson tours regularly with The Rolling Stones, has collaborated with Lenny Kravitz, has album credits with The Allman Brothers, Slightly Stoopid, and Blackalicious — to name a few — and on top of all that leads his own band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. His 2019 album “Gnomes and Badgers,” is a multi-genre dance party with a message.

Then, from James Brown inspired in-the-pocket funk and soul, to foot stomping blues, and the spontaneous spirit of jazz, Sure Fire Soul Ensemble may not be your typical San Diego band, but they’re all about San Diego. Just check out the names of a few their songs: "IB strutting," "Strollin' Adams," and “City Heights” — the Sure Fire Soul Ensemble play the sound of San Diego Diego in a way that you might never have heard it before, with a little more soul and a lot more funk.

Credits: Produced and hosted by Kurt Kohnen, Jade Hindmon, and Maureen Cavanaugh. Megan Burke is senior producer.