Friday, June 22 , 2018, 10:59 am | Fog/Mist 61º

 
 
 
 

Karl Denson and His Tiny Universe, Zach Deputy Perform a Ray Charles Dance Party Marathon at SOhO

Karl Denson and Tiny Universe jam at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. (L. Paul Mann / Noozhawk photo)
Karl Denson and Tiny Universe jam at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. (L. Paul Mann / Noozhawk photo)

On a sleepy fall night, saxophonist extraordinare Karl Denson brought his consummate jam band, Tiny Universe, to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in Santa Barbara to play a very special jam session.

For anyone who considers themselves an aficionado of jam band music, Denson's name is synonymous with the genre. His legendary jams, some lasting all night, have seen him collaborate both improvisationally and traditionally, with most every major player in the jam band world.

For this very special month-long mini-tour, Denson and his phenomenal band of musicians have teamed up with another unique jam aficionado, Zach Deputy, to perform a reworked jam version of Ray Charles classics.

Deputy opened Wednesday night's show with a short solo set filled with looping sounds of the multiple instruments he plays. He describes his infectious rhythms as “island-infused drum n' bass gospel ninja soul.” The talented multiethnic musician credits his mix of Puerto Rican, Irish, African, British, French and Cherokee heritage for the inspiration of his unique mix of world music sounds.

Denson and Tiny Universe took the stage shortly after 10:30 p.m. The seven-member jam band army immediately launched into dance-inspiring music and the crowd quickly began to pack together in front of the stage, with many dancing in a euphoric state. The band proceeded to play a powerhouse two-hour set, consisting of 20 jam-laden songs, many from the Ray Charles catalog of hits.

Halfway through the show, the band was joined by Deputy, who took over the lead vocal duties in an almost Dr. John n-like persona. During the band's encore, Deputy, took up a Bo Diddley-type box electric guitar and, along with the rest of the band, proceeded to blow the roof off of SOhO in the most intense and extraordinary jam of the night.

After the show, a polite and demure Denson came out to sign autographs and pose for pictures until the club's closing at 1:30 a.m. One of the most talented musicians in the world just happens to be one of the most humble and gracious human beings, as well.

Jam on, Karl.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

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