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Don Braden and Karl Latham, Big Funk Live
Posted by Cassandra Medcalf (@DJMamaCass)
As you know, I’m always looking for new music to play on Fusion Friday. Luckily, this little piece of gold arrived in the mail last week.
This album is just plain fun. Braden and Latham work extremely well together- the charts are well written and performed, but maintain the energetic feel of a late night jam session. I found myself dancing along and picturing myself at what must have been one incredible concert.
Though not at the forefront of the jazz scene, Don Braden is an accomplished saxophonist, composer, and arranger. He’s worked with Tony Williams, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, and a bunch of the jazz greats- he’s even worked as a composer for Bill Cosby. Percussionist Karl Latham has also played with some fantastic musicians, such as Mark Egan and Clark Terry.
The two musicians work beautifully together on this album- seamlessly shifting between solos and never missing a beat. The production of this CD is great, too, considering it was recorded live. Listening to Braden’s sax solo “Having a Ball” (track 4), you can practically hear the hall around you- his tone is both piercing and resonant, transporting you to that jazz-club atmosphere. Similarly, Latham’s drum work really fills the space, complimenting the bass and keys with just enough rhythmic variety to toe the line between groovy and exciting. The Big Funk has that true, all-encompassing jazz feel that a lot of studio albums lack.
And I can’t talk about the musicianship without mentioning Gary Foote of Blood, Sweat, and Tears on bass and Nick Rolfe on keyboards. Both rhythm players are truly phenomenal, especially in track 1, “High Rise” and track 8, “Confusion,” which both feature a remarkable organ solo and a sick funk bass line, reminiscent of Marcus Miller.
Trust me, this performance is worth a listen. You can hear previews of all the tracks here:
Or, of course, you can always listen for it on Jazz Impressions on 92 WICB!