All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


David Braid Sextet: Zhen: David Braid Sextet Live Volume II

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Zhen feels like an important record: the compositions make big impressions, the playing is intense, and the sound is joyous. On this live set, we are listening to David Braid's regular sextet, which has been together since 2001 and was recently heard on Vivid (2004). That album, together with Mnemosyne's March (2006), another live album with Braid and Mike Murley, and Zhen, paints a picture of Braid as a player and composer who is growing astonishingly quickly.

The part writing is both intricate and wide open, allowing plenty of room for the soloists. The effects that Braid gets out of this sextet are always surprising, yet they have an appropriateness that aids forward movement through the story the piece is telling. The scaffolding that has been composed allows the music to be played for the audience, rather than at it.

I have always experienced the Canadian scene as creating accessible, rhythmic, melodic yet deep music that is also very welcoming and open, inviting the listener to get inside. Braid is particularly good at this in both his composing and playing.

Much of the album is tinged with the sounds of the East, as epitomized by scales that expose different intervals than we are used to hearing. The most dramatic, and, because of its placement right after the opening blues, the most shocking, is "Lydian Sky." This melody is one of the most beautiful Braid has ever written, while at the same time exposing the function of the augmented fourth (as opposed to the flatted fifth of bebop). This music caresses the ear as it tickles the mind. While this review is not the best place for a discussion of George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, this piece captures what I hear as the core meaning of the theory.

After bass and piano establish the tonal center, Murley enters with a sultry soprano sax sound and plays a melody that starts with and repeats the augmented fourth, as if daring us to hear it as wrong. It just hangs there untethered until the harmony shifts underneath it as if being forced to resolve by the power of this note. The music then begins to unfold and grow, with gorgeous part writing behind Murley's solo. The pause for breath in the middle with a partial, normal-sounding cadence only reiterates that the strange sounds are really perfectly normal in the right context. This piece shows the mastery of instrumental forces and control of harmony that Braid now evinces.

The set ends with a version of Coltrane's "Giant Steps" that is so fetchingly different in both harmony and feel as to make one question the original, while tying together the harmonic concepts that "Lydian Sky" introduced with a familiar piece.

This band's longevity and cohesiveness allow Braid to develop knowing that he has a vehicle to play his music—outstanding, superb music—effortlessly.

Track Listing: Fishers of Men; Lydian Sky; Temptress; Dance of the Zinfadels; Andalusia; Sai Kung; Giant Steps.

Personnel: David Braid: piano; Gene Smith: trombone; John McLeod: flugelhorn, cornet; Mike Murley: tenor and soprano saxophones; Steve Wallace: bass; Terry Clarke: drums.

Title: Zhen: David Braid Sextet Live Volume II | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: David Braid


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Live In Healdsburg CD/LP/Track Review
Live In Healdsburg
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Carpe Diem CD/LP/Track Review
Carpe Diem
by Don Phipps
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Exotica CD/LP/Track Review
by Chris May
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Oriental Orbit CD/LP/Track Review
Oriental Orbit
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Brightbird CD/LP/Track Review
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Bethany Project" CD/LP/Track Review Bethany Project
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 11, 2017
Read "Pekka" CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Back In Your Own Backyard" CD/LP/Track Review Back In Your Own Backyard
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "This Was Now" CD/LP/Track Review This Was Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 27, 2018
Read "Life In Space" CD/LP/Track Review Life In Space
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 3, 2017