Don Braden: Gentle Storm (2009)
Don Braden has come a long way since his days at Harvard, where he studied engineering along with playing in the university's jazz band. Over two decades into his career in jazz at the time of these recording sessions, the tenor saxophonist is very much at the top of his game. Joined by pianist George Colligan, bassist Joris Teepe and drummer Cecil Brooks III, who have all worked together on a number of occasions, Braden assembles a terrific program.
He recasts the standard "Secret Love" as a turbulent post-bop vehicle, with Colligan showing shades of McCoy Tyner. Braden's laconic, blues-drenched setting of another standard, "Willow Weep For Me," features some of his most heartfelt playing of the date. Braden offers a punchy take of Lee Morgan's hard bop masterpiece, "Speedball." Not many artists could take a hit from the pop group The Jackson Five and turn it into meaningful jazz, but Braden's bluesy treatment of "Never Can Say Goodbye," in a mid-tempo groove, works perfectly. Leon Russell's "This Masquerade" has been tackled by jazz players with mixed success; the tenorist's punchy, soulful arrangement makes it one of the better interpretations. Braden switches to alto flute for a warm rendition of "My Foolish Heart," accompanied solely by Teepe. The leader's originals are just as valuable. "Gentle Storm" is a low key, lyrical bossa nova, while "The Hunter" is an intricate duet with Teepe.
Track Listing: Secret Love; Gentle Storm; Never Can Say Goodbye; What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?; This Masquerade; The Hunter; Willow Weep For Me; Two of a Kind; My Foolish Heart; Speed Ball.
Personnel: Don Braden: tenor sax, alto flute; George Colligan: piano; Joris Teepe: bass, Cecil Brooks III: drums.