The Karl Denson Trio, Lunar Orbit (Bobby Ace)

The packaging may read “The Karl Denson Trio,” but Lunar Orbit is pretty much a one-man show. Karl Denson began his career as a member of Lenny Kravitz’s band, but he went on to form numerous other projects including the Greyboy Allstars and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Primarily a saxophonist and flautist, Denson explores his funk and jazz roots on Lunar Orbit. The album focuses on the woodwind-organ-drum set-up, but Denson is the only constant on the album. The rest is a rotating cast of players including organ players Kenneth Crouch, Will Blades, and Anthony Smith, drummers Aaron Redfield and Jake Najor, and Steve Haney on congas.

The album opens with the title track, “Lunar Orbit,” in which a pulsating organ, thumping reverse bass, and a steady rock beat starkly contrast with Denson’s melodic flute line. “The Plain Truth” is a jazzy scorcher that features the wildest Denson sax solo of the bunch. Denson’s best attribute is that he plays with energy, regardless of the instrument. A couple of tracks reach over seven minutes, but rarely do they get boring and weighty. Occasionally, however, Denson does falter, such as the smooth jazz take, “Won’t Somebody.” But Denson manages to stay focused, and not seem self-aggrandizing. Lunar Orbit never gets experimental, but it keeps the listener intrigued because of its simplicity.