Tenor saxophonist Don Braden works in a variety of contexts. None is more interesting than his Organic Trio with Cecil Brooks III on drums and Philadelphia native Kyle Koehler on organ, recorded live at Brooks' Jersey club Cecil's for Workin', his 13th disc as a leader. This is no soul-tinged "chicken shack session, though the playing is indeed soulful in a modern jazz way. It is also enriched by the simplicity that comes with having an uncrowded bandstand, showcasing Koehler as a rising star in Philly's great litany of B3 players, with a crisp, clean and swinging sound.
Braden and Co. tackle a variety of moods and contexts, including two brief (approximately ninety-second) solo originals, "Looking For Her and "Moving In, ballad preludes that break up the trio pattern. The session opens with the energetic "You Can't Hide Love from Earth, Wind and Fire's Gratitude album.
The centerpiece is a burner fittingly called "Where There's Smoke. Braden's previously recorded "Brighter Days is strong in this trio treatment, which exudes a bubbling energy from all three players. Just when you think Braden has said it all in his sophisticated solo, Koehler takes the baton and adds a delightful and sophisticated organ lead. "She's on Her Way, which is filled with nuance and shimmers with subtlety and soul, is Braden's beautiful ballad tribute to his daughter Nicole.
Braden continues his trend of covering R&B hits. He transforms two Roberta Flack hits, "The Closer I Get to You (recorded with Donnie Hathaway) and "Feel Like Makin' Love, into strong jazz solo vehicles. The latter turns into a ten-minute-plus launching pad for some of the disc's strongest solos; the trio reworks it into something far greater than its poppish original context.
Spoken Introduction By Cecil Brooks III; You Can't Hide Love; Spoken Introduction By Don Braden; Looking For Her; She's On Her Way; Where There's Smoke; Brighter Days; Moving In; The Closer I Get To You; The Vail Jumpers; Feel Like Makin' Love.