Don Braden

Workin'

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With a wealth of tenor saxophonists among his generation, Don Braden might get lost in a crowd when compared to those who have signed to major labels or have expensive publicity firms. But Braden has been a model of consistency as a leader over his career, including this 2005 performance recorded at Cecil's, featuring his trio with organist Kyle Koehler and drummer Cecil Brooks III. Blending elements of hard bop and soul-jazz, Braden launches the set with a driving take of "You Can't Hide Love," previously a hit for the R&B band Earth, Wind & Fire. He has equal success with another R&B favorite, the ballad "The Closer I Get to You," by transforming it into a viable soul-jazz vehicle, backed by Koehler's unpretentious chords and Brooks' minimal percussion. Another R&B smash is "Feel Like Makin' Love," which would seem a more likely candidate for a smooth jazz artist, but the tenor saxophonist's potent solo and breezy setting will win over the mainstream jazz audience. But Braden is at the top of his game during two unaccompanied pieces, "Looking for Her" (a soulful tribute to his newborn daughter) and the lush miniature "Moving In." This well-recorded live date with an attentive, not overly noisy audience is well worth investigating.

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