Cool, slick, warm, elegant. The listener gets some
combination of those elements throughout Luminosity (Creative
Perspective Music, 2015) by the Don Braden Organix Quartet.
The ensemble features Braden on
tenor saxophone, flute and alto flute; Kyle Koehler, Hammond organ; Dave
Stryker, guitar; and Cecil Brooks III, drums. Trumpeter Claudio Roditi
and alto saxophonist Sherman Irby appear on one track each. No credit is
given for a bassist, which usually means the organist covers the bass
Stryker sets the tone for the bright, joyful “Luminosity (First Steps).”
Tenor and organ perform a duet during the main theme. Then Braden takes
off on a fun-filled jaunt. While he expresses, the others jam
underneath. Koehler and Stryker keep it going when the baton is passed
to them in succession. Brooks, who stretches out plenty underneath
others, also gets a moment to shine.
Roditi joins the ensemble for the upbeat “I Could Write a Book.” Trumpet
and tenor blend for the fast-paced melody. Roditi is first to take
point. Koehler demonstrates some impressive speed during his turn. After
Braden’s spirited romp, Stryker gets his licks in. After the solos, the
melody resumes. Then Roditi and Braden feed off each other in
alternating, sometimes overlapping ad-libs, before joining together for
Braden switches to flute for the energetic arrangement of “A Whole New
World” from Disney’s Aladdin. After a pass on verse and chorus,
Braden gets creative. The rhythm is like that of a juiced-up waltz. This
is an excellent example of taking what’s known, giving enough to make it
familiar, then exploring new territory.
Braden has recorded and toured with a number of jazz luminaries and has
produced 19 albums as a leader. He grew up in Louisville, Kentucky,
where he learned saxophone and flute, playing in school bands and
getting into the funk and rock sounds of the 1970s. Braden attended
Harvard University as an engineering major, but turned to his love of
jazz. He has written hundreds of compositions for various ensemble
sizes, including orchestra. Some of his music appear on television and
in film. He is a jazz educator and conducts workshops around the world.
The Organix quartet appears on all tracks, except “Chelsea Bridge,”
which Braden plays solo.