Getting Better | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Getting Better

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe brings the funk to the Century Center for a soulful pre-eclipse party


arl Denson plans to get organized about his next album—right after playing a string of eclipse-related shows in Oregon this weekend. The saxophonist and funk master has developed quite the following with his band, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, and even finds time to play with The Rolling Stones. On Friday night, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe fills the Century Center Courtyard for a soulful "preclipse" party before heading out to Big Summit Prairie to perform at the huge global eclipse gathering in the Ochoco National Forest.

"You know, I wanted to see the eclipse, but I'm not going to be able to," says Denson. "So most of all I want to see this group of people that are out in the high desert to see this. And I think that will be the most fun part is just seeing the gathering of humanity."

While he won't be able to stick around to see the eclipse along the path of totality, Denson has seen an eclipse or two in the past.

"I saw one when I was a little kid in 29 Palms near Palm Springs," Denson recalls. "I was a little kid and we were out on the front lawn and I watched it. I felt like I saw some kind of weird flying object after it, but I was only like five so I'm sure I could have been mistaken."

Denson, whose music with Tiny Universe fluctuates between jazz, funk and soul, finds himself wanting to get home to continue writing his next album. While work has been in progress on the album since the beginning of this year, Denson and his manager agreed that what they had was a bit scattered. Over the last month, he's been getting organized and blocking out time for writing.

"Solitude is my trick. I'm always so busy, so when I actually have time to sit around the house and garden and do normal stuff is when I get the most done," Denson reveals. "I have my guitar with me, which I've been playing for the last couple years so I sit and plunk on the guitar and then figure out the simple part of the song structure and go from there."


or Denson, writing lyrics is kind of his Achilles heel. He needs peace and quiet to get in the zone for writing lyrics. His writing process comes on-and-off. He'll go outside, pick some weeds and then go write for a bit, then he'll go make some coffee. The writing process sounds pretty peaceful for a man who's touted as being part of one of the best live bands on the planet. But that's no surprise, considering the creative process varies for everyone.

For his upcoming shows at the Century Center and the Eclipse gathering, Denson plans to play some "new-ish" material that will be on the new record, but hasn't been released yet, which will give fans a sneak peek into the future of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. Fortunately for us, Denson loves playing live and continuing to refine his skills.

"It's how you get better as a performer," Denson says. "As a sax player, performing live is one of those things that we do to get better. For our fans, it's the attempt to make them believe that it's worth coming to a show because it's going to be different and better than the last one. And that's the key."

Soular Preclipse with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

Friday, Aug 18. 6:30pm.

Century Center Courtyard

70 SW Century Dr., Bend.

$25/adv, $30/door.

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