Don Braden
Don Braden
Courtesy of Two for the Show Media. Photo by Christopher Drukker. Used with permission.

Luminosity, the new recording from Don Braden and his Organix Quartet oozes with Braden’s trademark saxophone/ flute virtuosity and compositional integrity. His Organix Quartet – Kyle Koehler on Hammond organ, Dave Stryker on guitar and Cecil Brooks III on drums – is joined by special guest trumpeter Claudio Roditi on “Chelsea Bridge” and special guest alto saxophonist Sherman Irby on “Driftin.’” All of the songs feature the Organix ensemble except “Chelsea Bridge” which is performed on solo saxophone by Don Braden.

Braden also wrote five of the compositions for Luminosity including “Luminosity (First Steps)” which opens the program and was inspired by John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.” Its melody has more extended elements and has a through-composed chord progression but is based on descending major seventh chords as in “Giant Steps.” This song sets the tone for what’s in store for you dear listener and it’s a keeper! Braden’s top to bottom command of his tenor saxophone on this song is impeccable and the organ solo by Kyle Koehler really pumps this song up. Check it out.

Chick Corea wrote his homage to pianist Bud Powell many years ago but it is still very accessible to a new generation of jazz pianists and for other instrumentalists as well. Here, Braden and company give “Bud Powell” the organ and sax approach and it works well. With Braden taking the lead on the melody, Koehler on the organ, and an extended solo by guitarist Dave Stryker, this song swings and bops with new energy but with the same jazzy intent written in the original arrangement.

“Chelsea Bridge,” the great Billy Strayhorn’s jazz standard written in 1941, is rearranged with fresh colors and textures and is performed by Braden without accompaniment. His solo approach is that of a highly experienced jazz educator/arranger and he pulls it off with ease. Because of the song’s long association with the great pianist/composer Duke Ellington and other jazz luminaries such as signer Ella Fitzgerald and Wynton Marsalis, Braden achieves that certain distinction given to these artists during because of their lasting interpretations.

Don Braden plays the flute on a great new arrangement of “A Whole New World” (from the feature film “Aladdin”) which also features exceptional solos by both Dave Stryker and Kyle Koehler. The song is flows like a gentle breeze and the blithe quality and expressive sound of his flute playing certainly meets the high standards set by vocalists Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle on the film's soundtrack.

Overall, Luminosity, which is available on Creative Perspective Music, is a great addition to Don Braden’s extensive repertoire of recordings. He has released over 20 recordings with a number of jazz greats and this album ranks among his finest. It certainly lives up to its title and shines like a ray of sunny brilliance.