Emily Braden
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Emily Braden

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"Emily Braden’s Soul Walk a Major Artistic Success"

July 7, 2009

You read it here first.Vocalist Emily Braden’s debut studio album, Soul Walk, co-written, arranged, and produced by New York pianist/composer/producer Misha Piatigorsky, is such a resounding artistic success that it has the potential to launch Braden into the first rank of contemporary jazz vocalists.

Recorded last year in New York and full of that city’s musical energy, Soul Walk announces Braden as one of the most exciting female jazz vocalists to emerge in years. That’s no surprise to Victoria audiences, of course, where the 27 year-old, originally from Boise, Idaho, has lived, studied and performed for the last eight years, but it will be news to those jazz fans who will be hearing her for the first time once this album gets the exposure it deserves.

It also confirms yet again that Piatigorsky, who spends his summers in Victoria (his wife is from here) performing and teaching jazz at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, is a truly gifted composer, arranger and producer (besides being an in-demand New York pianist). His evocative, shape-shifting arrangements and inspired use of instrumentation augment and strengthen the pure excitement and energy Braden generates with her soulful, versatile voice on the six original tunes and six covers that comprise this landmark recording.

It’s hard to pick an all-out winner here, since all the tunes, from the high-energy, get-up-and-move Testify that kicks things off to the sweet and tender rendering of the Herb Ellis ballad Detour Ahead that completes the album, are beautifully realized, each contributing to a dazzling palate of sonic colour that showcases the versatility of Braden’s voice and Piatigorsky’s unbounded musical imagination. But two original tunes, Wallflower’s Fantasy and Georgia O’Keefe, are particular standouts for their lyric and sonic artistry. Think of the best of Joni Mitchell (at her jazziest) and Herbie Hancock (at his most innovative) and you have a sense of the quality we’re talking about here.

If this album isn’t picked up by a major record label in the US and Canada, I’ll eat my hat – no, make that my entire record collection.

You can hear two tunes from the album at Braden’s MySpace page here:


– Rick Gibbs

Stay tuned for more on Emily Braden. I’ll soon be running an interview with her as I preview her upcoming gigs in Victoria and on Hornby Island. This week she’s off to Boise for a CD launch in her hometown. The album, by the way, will soon be available on line through iTunes.

© 2009 Rick Gibbs and Island Jazz. Please see the copyright info in the sidebar for permitted uses.
- Rick Gibbs

"Quiet Color >> Emily Braden"


In the wake of fantastic shows that was last week, I needed a break from the hard-rocking indie and dance that dominated the scene over the last seven days. With relaxation on my mind (and bedtime in sight), I decided to try out a demo I recently received from Emily Braden, a budding jazz/soul singer from Victoria, Canada.

Funded on the strength of a live recording from earlier this year, Braden just arrived in town to lay down her debut solo album, due out early next year.

View Street Session is a powerful collection of both Braden originals and covers of famous jazz standards. Although the covers, such as “Bye Bye Blackbird”, are easily identifiable, Braden’s varied influences transform well-worn classics into fresh melodies that even the most devoted hipster could love. Basic elements of funk pop up on most tracks, especially on the standout “Soul Walk”, which gives us a front-seat to the fireworks that occur when jazz and neo-soul wrestle for control. Expecting a brutal takedown, I was happily surprised to find that I could seamlessly flow along with Braden’s backing band, who takes us on a soothing journey between genres. Instead of producing a neo-soul record that kinda sounds like jazz, they keep the transitions smooth enough to remind us that although they are updating the standards, jazz still is the main star here. The musical play is only accentuated by Braden’s bold voice. She takes you back to that vintage feel of Ella and Billie, but still keeps things fresh and unique. The best way to describe her raw sound is dripping in soul, reminding me of a cross between the power of Nina Simone and the sly sexiness of Ms. Badu.

A nearly 3 minute long scat solo that takes you on a ride so electrifying you’d think she’d break into beatboxing at any minute, and the Brazilian beat bombshell “Hace Mucho”, are just further proof that Emily’s out to redefine fusion and make it completely her own. And in an age of genre colliding, “The” bands, and ‘80s-wannabe soul, sometimes kicking back with some jazz isn’t as non-confrontational as you’d think…

-Gilah Elul, "Quiet Color" Brooklyn-based multimedia company

- Gilah Elul


View Street Session (2008)
Soul Walk (2009)



Years of beautiful hard work has allowed Emily Braden to develop a truly unique style. With her powerful range and soulful sound, she explores everything from gospel wails, confident blues, hard funk and feverish vocal improvisations to heartfelt, subtle ballads.

Emily’s career as a versatile and engaging soloist is rooted in an early passion for powerhouse vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin. She recalls hours spent at a young age memorizing classic vocal recordings and scat solos.

Originally from Boise, Idaho, the now-27-year old moved to Victoria, BC in 2002 to begin a four-year mentorship with the legendary jazz musician Louise Rose. Her instrument-like improvisations and affinity for the blues gained the attention of world music artist and Canadian Juno-award nominee, Harry Manx. With Manx, Emily has recorded on three albums and toured across Canada.

Highlights from her musical career include headlining Victoria Jazzfest’s closing show, when she was joined on stage with a touring Wynton Marsalis and members of his Lincoln Centre Orchestra. In March of this year, Emily was selected to perform at the historical Apollo Theater in New York City as a competitor in the world renowned talent show, “Apollo Amateur Night.” Most recently, she performed at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club as a guest vocalist with the Misha Piatigorsky Octet.

Upcoming projects include the release of Emily’s debut solo album, “Soul Walk” in June 2009. Recorded this fall in New York City with pianist, composer and producer Misha Piatigorsky, the album marks the debut of Emily’s original compositions and promises to be a bold introduction to an exciting career. She is thrilled to be a headliner in the Victoria Jazz Festival this year. Her CD release with Jazz Fest is set for June 30th at the Alix Goolden Hall.