Don Braden
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Don Braden


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The best kept secret in music


Don Braden
Don Braden Presents the

By Drew Wheeler
CDNOW Senior Editor, Jazz

Into the thick of the current dialog about the emergence of "new standards" in jazz comes versatile reedman Don Braden, leading his six-piece Contemporary Standards Ensemble on tenor, with trumpeter Terrell Stafford, alto saxophonist Vincent Herring, pianist George Colligan, bassist Richie Goods, and drummer Ralph Peterson.

Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne" is the first track elevated by Braden to "contemporary standard" status, and it's hard to argue the point upon hearing its distinctively lurching piano vamp, and a Braden solo that's a wild flourish of tonal color. Braden also arranges two from Roberta Flack: "The Closer I Get to You," notable for the balladic interplay of its soft-focus horns and gloriously soul-deep phrasing from Braden, and "Feel Like Making Love," in which he turns the familiar melody into a reedy, lower-register clarion call.

Braden included some of his own tunes amongst the remakes, including "Dance of the One" -- a finely sculpted melody in which the horns' elegant statements are answered by the piano's percussive throb -- and "Arise," a swinging modal number with a propulsive beat and a hypnotic piano vamp. And whether he's playing "contemporary standards" or his own material, Don Braden continues to set a high standard for himself. - CD NOW

Don Braden Organ Trio "brings back fond savory memories from some of the great tenor-organ combos" - Laurence Donohue Greene

By Nic Jones

A number of potential factors can work against the success of any live jazz recording, despite the fact that the music should in theory always be at its best when captured in such a setting. Such factors, like the kind of form the individual musicians happen to be in on any given night, for example, are irrelevant here; what in essence is captured for posterity is a night when a trio of musicians came together to play.

Tenor sax player Don Braden has been around for a few years now, and his work here is evidence of the fact that he has applied himself with no little fervour to the task of establishing his own instrumental voice within the post-bop mainstream. Organist Kyle Koehler sometimes comes across to these ears as an amalgam of the irreplaceable Jimmy Smith, leavened with the less emphatic keyboard approach favoured by the likes of Sam Yahel. Drummer Cecil Brooks has previously figured on record with a rather different trio with Arthur Blythe, and comparison between the two reveals that he's become something of a monster, in the best sense of the term.

”Looking For Her” and “Moving In” feature Braden unaccompanied, and he uses both opportunities to lay his prodigious technique on the listener. In the hands of a less skilled practitioner of the art, this could be forbidding, but Braden seems to know instinctively that all the technique in the world doesn't amount to much if it's not cut with some quality—it might be called “soul,” for all of the hazards inherent in that term—that gets to the listener on an entirely different level. There is also a welcome lack of sentimentality in Braden's work, as on “The Closer I Get To You,” which reveals his tone as paradoxically hard but supple. The trio is so tight that one might almost imagine they're breathing in unison.

The old adage that live albums have frequently been burdened with is that they can be souvenirs for anyone who attended the actual gig. This is a damn sight more than that. It's a record of a summer night in 2005 in New Jersey when three musicians came together and fashioned themselves some of-the-moment art. - All About Jazz


DON BRADEN - Selected Discography - As a Leader
-CD: "Workin", HighNote 7155; released March 2006 featuring Kyle Koehler, and Cecil Brooks III

-CD: “The New Hang”, HighNote HCD 7117; released January 2004; featuring Kyle Koehler, Conrad Herwig, and Cecil Brooks III

- CD: "Brighter Days", HighNote HCD 7076; released June 2001; featuring the Don Braden Quartet: Don, with Xavier Davis, Dwayne Burno, and Cecil Brooks III. Yellow Dog Jazz Radio Chart #5!

- CD: "Don Braden Presents the Contemporary Standards Ensemble", Double-Time Jazz DTRCD-177; released December 2000; featuring Terell Stafford, Vincent Herring, George Colligan, Richie Goods, Ralph Peterson, Jr. Gavin Jazz #5!

- CD: "The Fire Within", BMG Classics/RCA Victor 09026-63297-2; released March 1999; featuring Christian McBride, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Julian Joseph, Orlando LaFleming, Mark Mondesir, Darrell Grant, Dwayne Burno, Cecil Brooks III. Gavin Jazz #6!

- CD: "The Voice of the Saxophone", BMG Classics/RCA Victor 09026-68797-2; released August 1997; featuring Vincent Herring, Randy Brecker, Hamiet Bluiett, Frank Lacy, Darrell Grant, Dwayne Burno, Cecil Brooks III, George Colligan, Jimmy Delgado, and special guest Bill Cosby. Gavin Jazz #4!

- CD: "The Open Road", Double-Time DTRCD-114; released September 1996; featuring Kenny Werner, Tim Hagans, Larry Grenadier, and Billy Hart. Gavin Jazz #16.

- CD: "Organic", Epicure BK-66873 (the Sony/Epic jazz imprint); released August 1995; featuring "Captain" Jack McDuff, Larry Goldings, Russell Malone, Winard Harper, Cecil Brooks III, Leon Parker, David "Fathead" Newman, Tom Harrell. Gavin Jazz #2!

- CD: "Landing Zone", Landmark LCD-1539-2; released January 1995; featuring Cecil Brooks III, Joris Teepe, Kevin Hays. Gavin Jazz #13.

- CD: "After Dark", Criss Cross 1081; released April 1994; featuring: Scott Wendholt, Steve Wilson, Noah Bless, Darrell Grant, Christian McBride, Carl Allen.

- CD: "Wish List", Criss Cross 1069; released May 1993; featuring: Tom Harrell, Steve Turre, Benny Green, Chris McBride, Carl Allen.

- CD: "The Time Is Now", Criss Cross 1051; released October 1991; featuring: Tom Harrell, Benny Green, Chris McBride, Carl Allen.

- CD: "Joris Teepe/Don Braden", Pay As You Earn, Mons CD 2004; released April 1995; featuring: Tom Harrell, Cyrus Chestnut, Carl Allen.

As a Sideman

- CD: Tom Harrell Big Band, "Time's Mirror", RCA Victor 09026-63524-2, released September 1999- CD: Freddie Hubbard, "Live At Warsaw Jazz Festival '91", Jazzmen 660.50.001, released 1992- VIDEO: Freddie Hubbard, "Live At Warsaw Jazz Festival '91", released 1998- CD: Art Farmer, "Silk Road", Arabesque Jazz AJ0130, released August 1997- CD: Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars, "Dizzy's World", Shanachie 5060, released September 1999- LP/CD: Betty Carter, "Look What I Got", Verve 835 661-2, released June 1988; 1989 Grammy Winner- CD: "Compact Jazz - The Best of the Jazz Vocalists", released in1992- CD: Joris Teepe, "For Adults Only: Live at Small's", Arkadia Records, released August 2000- CD: "Thank You: Our Tribute to Duke Ellington", Arkadia Records, released 1999- CD: Jimmy Ponder, "Ain't Misbehavin'", High Note Records, released in 2000- CD: Cecil Brooks III, "Live at Sweet Basil", Savant Records SCD2034, released in 2001- CD: Arlee Leonard, "Wild Honey", Solajazz SJP 001, released in 2001- CD: Lonnie Plaxico, "Emergence", Savant Records (soon to be re-released by Blue Note), released in 2000- CD: Phil DeGreg, "Whirl Away", J-Curve Records, released in 2000- CD: Cecil Brooks III, "For Those Who Love to Grove", Savant Records SCD2023, released October 1999- CD: Xavier Davis, "Dance of Life", Metropolitan MR 1115, released April 1999

For complete discography, check out!


Feeling a bit camera shy



". . . one of the new young lions of the tenor saxophone." -- Roy Haynes, drummer

". . . brilliant and assured . . ." -- Peter Watrous, The New York Times

" A nice person and a great musician . . ." -- Bill Cosby

Don Braden is a musician of the highest caliber. Having spent years as the saxophonist with greats like Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard and Roy Haynes, he has developed an extensive knowledge of every aspect of jazz performance. He is an imaginative, technically excellent, soulful saxophonist, and his harmonic and rhythmic sophistication give him a unique approach to improvising as well as composing and arranging. Most important of all: he has a beautiful sound, and he swings! All this combines with his joyous yet disciplined personality to make him one of the most important young musicians working today.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 20, 1963, and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Braden's first exposure to music came from his parents' record collection, and from radio. Although there were no musicians in his family, he showed a strong interest in music early on. At age 13, he started playing tenor sax in middle school band class, and two years later, joined his first professional band -- influenced by and performing the music of "contemporary jazz" groups, like The Crusaders. After being introduced to acoustic jazz in high school by educator Jamey Aebersold, Braden went on to be chosen first chair for the McDonald's All-American High School Jazz Band and the McDonald's All-American High School Marching Band, and to receive a Yamaha Instrument Award.

After his acceptance to Harvard University in 1981, Braden divided his time between studying engineering and performing at jazz clubs around the Boston/Cambridge area. While there, he studied briefly with local saxophone heavyweights Jerry Bergonzi and Bill Pierce. He also began composing more seriously during this time, writing and arranging pieces for several Harvard-based dance, film and music projects as well as for his own quartet.

In 1984, Braden moved to New York City where his first gigs were with the Harper Brothers Quintet and with organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and then with Betty Carter. After touring with the Wynton Marsalis Quintet for over seven months, he recorded with Betty Carter on her Grammy Award-winning album, "Look What I Got" (Verve-Polygram). Following gigs in Europe, Japan and the Americas with Tony Williams, Roy Haynes, and many others, Braden was a member of the Freddie Hubbard Quintet from 1989 to 1991. Since 1991 he has worked with Tom Harrell, the Mingus Big Band, Kenny Barron, J. J. Johnson, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and others, as well as with his own groups.

Braden has release his thirteenth CD as a leader, "Workin' - Live at Cecil's", featuring his burning Organic Trio, with rising star Kyle Koehler on the Hammond organ, and Bradens regular powerhouse drummer, Cecil Brooks III (who, incredibly, owns the club where the CD was recorded.) His previous CD, "The New Hang," adds the remarkable Conrad Herwig on trombone to the group. This band's repertoire includes a variety of sizzling original compositions, as well an burning version of Earth, Wind and Fire's Can't Hide Love and a swinging version of Chaka Khans classic Through the Fire. His eleventh CD as a leader, "Brighter Days", features Xavier Davis on piano, Dwayne Burno on bass, and Cecil Brooks III on drums.

Bradens other CDs include "Don Braden Presents the Contemporary Standards Ensemble" (on the Double-Time Jazz label), features a new young-all-star band performing popular songs and originals from the latter third of the twentieth century. "The Fire Within", released on RCA Victor in March 1999, features his passionate playing and sophisticated writing in a quartet setting. The previous RCA Victor CD, "The Voice of the Saxophone" (co produced by Benny Golson), showcases an all-star octet and has, like all of his previous CDs, received excellent press and an abundance of radio airplay. Before that was "The Open Road" on the Double-Time Jazz label, and "Organic" (Sony BK-66873), which stayed in the Gavin Jazz national airplay chart top 5 for seven weeks and reached ..2! His other CDs include "The Time Is Now" (Criss Cross 1051), "Wish List" (Criss Cross 1069), "After Dark" (Criss Cross 1081), "Pay As You Earn" (Mons 2004, co-led with Joris Teepe), and "Landing Zone" (Landmark 1539). Braden's groups have included some of the most respected musicians today; among them: bassists Christian McBride & Joris Teepe, pianists Benny Green & Darrell Grant, drummers Carl Allen, Cecil Brooks III & Billy Hart, trumpeters Tom Harrell & Randy Brecker, trombonist Steve Turre, organists Jack McDuff & Larry Goldings, and guitarist Russell Malone.

In addition to performing and composing for his own groups and CDs, Don Braden has composed for a numbe