Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Braden, Don

Braden, Don, tenor sax, soprano sax, flute, composer/arranger; b. Cincinnati, Ohio, 20 November 1963. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Braden's first exposure to music came from his parents' record collection, and from radio. Although there were no musicians in his family, he showed a strong interest in music early on. At age 13, he started playing tenor sax in middle school band class, and two years later, joined his first professional band -- influenced by and performing the music of "contemporary jazz" groups, like The Crusaders. After being introduced to acoustic jazz in high school by educator Jamey Aebersold, Braden went on to be chosen first chair for the McDonald's All-American High School Jazz Band and the McDonald's All-American High School Marching Band, and to receive a Yamaha Instrument Award.

After his acceptance to Harvard University in 1981, Braden divided his time between studying engineering and performing at jazz clubs around the Boston/Cambridge area. While there, he studied briefly with local saxophone heavyweights Jerry Bergonzi and Bill Pierce. He also began composing more seriously during this time, writing and arranging pieces for several Harvard-based dance, film and music projects as well as for his own quartet.

In 1984, Braden moved to New York City where his first gigs were with the Harper Brothers Quintet and with organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and then with Betty Carter. After touring with the Wynton Marsalis Quintet for over seven months, he recorded with Betty Carter. Following gigs in Europe, Japan and the Americas with Tony Williams, Roy Haynes, and many others, Braden was a member of the Freddie Hubbard Quintet from 1989 to 1991. Since 1991 he has worked with Tom Harrell, the Mingus Big Band, Kenny Barron, J. J. Johnson, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and others, as well as with his own groups.

Braden's groups have included some of the most respected musicians today; among them: bassists Christian McBride & Joris Teepe, pianists Benny Green & Darrell Grant, drummers Carl Allen, Cecil Brooks III & Billy Hart, trumpeters Tom Harrell & Randy Brecker, trombonist Steve Turre, organists Jack McDuff and Larry Goldings, and guitarist Russell Malone.

In addition to performing and composing for his own groups and CDs, Don Braden has composed for a number of important projects. He spent four years as co-music supervisor/composer for Bill Cosby's most recent CBS sitcom, "Cosby", which is now in syndication. He also co-wrote the theme song for Cosby's current CBS cartoon series, "Little Bill". Braden is also the proud recipient of a Doris Duke Foundation (in conjunction with Chamber Music America) Jazz composition grant, which will fund the creation of a new work for his Octet.

Braden's educational endeavors are a very important part of his career. He has been an English teacher in Barstow, California, high schools since 1964 when he was hired to teach Latin and English. The Latin stint lasted until 1975 and then cropped up for a couple of years in the early 1990's. He is currently an adjunct instructor of jazz at William Paterson University, Music Director of the Litchfield Jazz Festival Summer Music School, and the Music Director of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center's Jazz for Teens program. He also recently singed on as part of the "New York Faculty" at the North Netherlands Conservatory, in Groningen, Netherlands.

He endorses Julius Keilwerth saxophones, in conjunction with the major music retailer Boosey & Hawkes. He also endorses AMT Microphones, and Jamey Aebersold play-a-long products.

Braden has recorded on nearly forty CDs as a sideman and has produced ten CDs as a leader. He has composed music for countless concerts, for all of his CDs and for a number of independent films. 
In addition to being a very active professional saxophonist, Don Braden is also an experienced database developer.  He has over ten years of Xbase coding experience (as well as some C, Assembler, Fortran, etc.), and has worked on programs for Citibank, Pitney-Bowes, Festival Productions, and many others.  Until recently, he co-owned Heartbeat Software Corporation, which specializes in database systems for manufacturing (especially printing).  His ex-partner, Rex Dean, is also an artist -- a talented vocalist and filmmaker.

Braden almost always carries a laptop when he is on tour, and spends those long daily train or bus rides working on music charts or compositions, his mailing list, e-mail, web page updates, or whatever.
Braden is very health and environment conscious.  He does NO drugs, and consumes alcohol only rarely (red wine is actually healthy, in moderation).  He stays fit by running, going to the gym 2 to 4 times a week, avoiding red meat and fried or processed foods, and eating organic whenever possible.  He also recycles religiously (it's the law in New York anyway), and recharges his alkaline batteries.

The Time Is Now (1992); After Dark (1993); Wish List (1994); Landing Zone (1994); Organic (1995); with Joris Teepe: Pay As You Earn (1995); The Open Road (1996); The Voice Of The Saxophone (1997); The Fire Within (1999);, Presents The Contemporary Standards Ensemble (2001); Brighter Days (2001); Dave Lieman/Dan Moretti/Don Braden: Latin Genesis (2002).

As sideperson:
Tom Harrell: Labyrinth (1996), Time's Mirror (1999); Freddie Hubbard: Live at Warsaw Jazz Festival '91 (1992); Art Farmer: Silk Road (1997); The Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars:
Dizzy's World (1999); Betty Carter: Look What I Got (1988), Compact Jazz - The Best of the Jazz Vocalists (1992); Hal Wilner: Stay Awake: Interpretations of Vintage Disney Films (1988); Joris Teepe: Bottom Line (1996), Firm Roots (1999), Thank You: Our Tribute to Duke Ellington (1999), For Adults Only: Live at Small's (2000); Cecil Brooks III: For Those Who Love to Groove (1991), Live at Sweet Basil (2001); Jimmy Ponder: Guitar Christmas (1998), Ain't Misbehavin' (2000); Melvin Rhyne: The Legend (1992); Freddie Bryant: Take Your Dance Into Battle (1993); Lafayette Harris, Jr.: Lafayette Is Here (1993); Jeanie Bryson: I Love Being Here With You (1993); Stephen Scott: Aminah's Dream (1993); Winard Harper: Be Yourself (1994); Jeanie Bryson: Tonight I Need You So (1994); Valery Ponomarev: Live at Sweet Basil (1994); Freddie Cole: A Circle Of Love (1994); Donald Brown: Cartunes (1995); Leon Lee Dorsey: The Watcher (1995); Scott Wendholt: Through the Shadows (1995); Keiji Matsushima: Something Like This (1995); Keiji Matsushima: Brand New (1996); Ed's Next Move, Orginal Motion Picture Soundtrack (1996); New York Funkies: Hip Hop Bop (1997); Greg Searvance: Para Mi Madre (1998); Darrell Grant: Twilight Stories (1998); Jeri Brown: Zaius (1998); Andy Laverne: Stan Getz in Chappaqua (1998); Xavier Davis: Dance of Life (1999); Jeri Brown: I've Got Your Number (1999); Jazz for Those Peaceful Moments (1999); Arlee Leonard (2001); Lonnie Plaxico: Emergence (2000); Phil DeGreg: Whirl Away (2000); Allan Harris: Love Came - The Music of Strayhorn (2001); Nick Rolfe: The Persuader (2001); Antonio Ciacca Quintet: Autumn in New York (2002)

Freddie Hubbard, "Live At Warsaw Jazz Festival '91", released 1998
Freddie Hubbard, "Freddie Hubbard at Blue Note Tokyo", released 1991

Scott H. Thompson: Riffs. Don Braden, in: Down Beat (May 1992)
Ton Ouwehand: Saxofonist Don Braden. in: Jazz Nu, (May 1994)
Greg Robinson: HearSay. Don Braden - Watch What Happens, in: Jazz Times (Sep.1995)
Bob Bernotas: Don Braden, in: Saxophone Journal (May/Jun.1996)
Kenny Mathieson: Down to Don in: Jazzwise (Sep.1997)
Jean-Michel Proust: Don Braden, in: Jazz Magazine (Nov.1997)


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