The Don Braden Quartet, Chris' Jazz Cafe, Philadelphia, 6/02/2018; Live Improvisations On Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire, And More

Photo by John Abbott

After writing of a new album that excites me, in this case Don Braden's Earth, Wind And Wonder, there is nothing better than finding that the artist is coming to town for a live gig. The Don Braden Quartet played Chris' Jazz Cafe in center city Philadelphia on Saturday, June 2nd.

They opened with Earth, Wind & Fire's "Fantasy", a song so recognizable that you wouldn't mistake it for anything else. At the end of the song, after introducing the musicians, Braden explained the concept of Earth, Wind And Wonder saying that it's a process as old as jazz, to take a popular song and play it with creative improvisation and a little swing. The Braden Quartet did just that.

Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" stretched out in a much longer version than you hear on the record, allowing each of the musicians room to display their chops. Next up was "I Can't Help It," a piece that Wonder wrote but never recorded, instead giving it Michael Jackson to use on his Off the Wall album. In performance, it was a beautifully jazzy concoction with Brandon McCune and Braden taking flight on piano and flute respectively.

"The Time We Shared" was a Braden original from his album Luminosity. The song began with a sax solo that Braden pointed out later was a quote from Grover Washington, Jr., who was a Philadelphia native jazz saxophonist. It was especially nice to hear the inclusion of an earlier piece of work. Braden ended the show with one more Earth, Wind & Fire tune, "Can't Hide Love".

After the show and after introducing the players again, Braden came out into the audience to meet the fans, sell some CDs and give away a few, too. Don Braden proved to be a friendly, engaging sort. When he asked if anyone picked up on his Grover quote, he talked a little about the legendary sax player, promising to come back to play Philadelphia again and include some of Washington's tunes.

Watch "Fantasy"

Setlist: Click on linked songs to watch

01. Fantasy
02. Don't you Worry 'Bout A Thing
03. I Can't Help It
04. The Time We Shared
05. Can't Hide Love


Don Braden - Saxophone, flute
Brandon McCune - Piano
Kenny Davis - Bass
Jeremy Warren - Drums

Don Braden, Earth Wind And Wonder
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Earth, Wind And Wonder consists of four selections each, written by Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire, together with two Don Braden originals; these are not covers but jazz interpretations. Read the complete review.

Don Braden's Website
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