When I was in college, I discovered the amazing playing of Don Braden after listening to a Freddie Hubbard album, "Live in Warsaw". I was particularly drawn to his solo on Dear John, a Freddie Hubbard original written to the chord changes of John Coltrane's famous tune, "Giant Steps." I remember learning the catchy melody and listening to Don Braden's solo OVER and OVER. You can check out this great album here.
On a trip to Atlanta to visit my cousin, I found out that his mom and Don Braden are cousins! I had no idea that he had family roots in Tennessee, more less connections to my family! I expressed how much I admired his playing and that I would like to meet him one day. This was like 2009 or so...
Fast forward to 2015 and I was asked to get a clinician for the inaugural Ethos Music Festival. Right away, I knew that I wanted to reach out to Don. Not only is he a great player but he is an experienced educator who is great with students. I contacted him and he agreed!
This music festival was a two-day event designed for a youth jazz ensemble consisting of some of the best young musicians in the Middle Tennessee. These students rehearsed Friday and Saturday and concluded the event with a concert.
I also arranged for Don Braden to perform a concert in Nashville at the Nashville Jazz Workshop. For this performance, I assembled a band of some of the most talented musicians in Music City: Hamilton Hardin (piano), John Birdsong (bass), and Marcus Finnie (drums). I played alto saxophone while Don played tenor saxophone and flute. We played two burnin' sets consisting of Don's hip arrangements of standards, popular contemporary jazz and even a few of his originals. The energy in the room was phenomenal. Several of his family members were able to come as well as several fellow musicians and jazz supporters.
Below is a clip of us playing Don Braden's original "The Vail Jumpers".
The original recording and album can be found here.
I am thankful for the opportunity to share the stage with Don! It was an experience I hope to never forget!