March 13, 2001

Pianist a force to be reckoned with
By Geoff Chapman, The Toronto Star

Give the gold to Braid.

But perhaps young pianist David Braid doesn't need formal promotion. He has shown over the past year that he's already secure in the senior ranks of jazz pianists, and last night he proved it again.

The tenth and final concert in JazzFM9l's Science Centre winter series was an impressive effort by the youthful trio, the springy strength of bassist Mike McClennan and drummer Mark McLean's alert, subtle work spicing a night of zigzag shifts through time and numerous harmonic adventures.

An opening "Stompin' At The Savoy," with skittish licks and great games with phrasing and structure, was a good indication of what was in store, Braid's impetuous single-note runs and confident chording brilliantly remaking the classic.

He engineered many bright moments in "Falling In Love With Love," renovating its familiar shapes with irresistible verve and injecting drive and surprise into a song that also featured crafty exchanges with his battery-mates.

The improv heat was turned up even higher for Braid's "What Is This," another jazz staple ripped inside out, with its long shards of engaging ideas peppered with bursting bouquets of notes and tangy runs pointing to the untamed edges of invention. It was thrilling: he really caught lightning in a bottle here.

There was relief with his cheeky tribute to Ahmad Jamal ("Canadian Sunset"), its obvious thematic content nonetheless leaving room for exploration. It was a piece of rare stylistic economy.

"The Work Song," again Braid's composition, was steeped in soul and gospel jazz, mindful of the great Cannonball Adderley. His Bobby Timmons-type theme exploded suddenly into a crash 'n' burn solo from the effervescent McLean, followed by mischievous trio tag team trickery with timing. Great fun.

He acknowledged his interest in classical music with "Alexander" (a nod to Russian composer Scriabin).

Here he unleashed his expansive imagination and fondness for lyrical elegance, and it set the musical table for a crackling conclusion with "Whirlybird 2000."

Braid the player, writer, arranger and bandleader is clearly a force to be reckoned with.