“Come Together”, recorded at Number Nine Studio in Toronto, is just what the title says: the coming together of 5 wonderfully talented jazz artists, from Toronto and New York. The result is magical! At the core of the recording are Julie Michels’ “startling voice, hugely powerful, yet completely controlled and fearless, too” and Don Braden’s soulful, virtuosic saxophone and flute playing – and they are the perfect match. There are 11 tunes, from hip, unusual arrangements of jazz standards and original compositions, to stunning vocal arrangements by pianist David Restivo, to funky covers that will “make you move”. Supported by Kieran Overs on bass and Daniel Barnes on drums, “Come Together” promises honest and joyful musical connections along with a soaring sense of energy. It’s modern jazz that crosses many boundaries.
Julie Michels’ “glorious holler” [Mark Miller, The Globe & Mail] has been a unique and important feature on the Toronto jazz scene for more than two decades, after studying with legendary bassist Richard Davis at University of Wisconsin, and spending time gigging across Europe and North America. Her recordings include "Singing Naked" (1995) with bassist George Koller, “Live at Statler’s” (2003) with guitarist Kevin Barrett, "She Sings, He Plays" with Kevin Barrett (2010), and her latest, "Bass and Voice" with George Koller (2011). More information about Juie Michels is available at www.juliemichels.com.
Don Braden is a world class musician of the highest calibre, and has toured the world and recorded with the Who's Who of Jazz, including Freddie Hubbard, Roy Haynes, Tony Williams and Betty Carter. His own 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 & Larry Goldings, and guitarist Russell Malone. Braden has composed music for everything from duo to full symphonic orchestra, in many styles, for recordings (including 18 CDs as a leader and over 80 as a sideman), film and television, and worked several years as composer for Bill Cosby. His appearances include countless performances in Jazz festivals and venues like New York’s Village Vanguard, Carnegie Hall, Blue Note, Sweet Basil, Birdland, and many others in the Americas, Europe, Japan, Russia and Australia. Television appearances include Saturday Night Live, David Brenner, Joan Rivers (all with Wynton Marsalis) and several others. He is also a renowned Jazz educator. Find more information about Don Braden at www.donbraden.com
Notes from Julie and Don
So, how did we, “Come Together”? When I met Don Braden at JazzWorks Jazz Camp, in the beautiful Canadian Laurentian Mountains, in the summer of 2010, it felt like I was meeting up with an old friend. And when we played together, unrehearsed and choosing tunes on the spot, that feeling happened again. There was a sense that we’d always made music together, and the joy was there for all to hear!
In the fall of 2011, I had invited Don to be my guest at a gig in Toronto, when the unthinkable happened - the venue owners, called to apologetically say that there had been a “double booking” and that the gig would need to be rescheduled. Of course, Don’s busy performing and teaching schedule, which takes him across the US and also to Groningen in the Netherlands several times each year, seemed an insurmountable obstacle to finding a new date.
Enter, Judy Humenick, (who is not only my friend, but also my manager) who said , “I can salvage this, for the scheduled date – the two of you should be playing together!” So, I said, “go ahead”, and waited to see what she could do. Well, she did it. Within 2 days, a new venue was booked and a new group formed in anticipation of a mid November performance.
On Saturday, November 12, 2011 we found ourselves at Gallery 345 in Toronto - with Don on saxophone and flute, Kieran Overs on bass, Daniel Barnes on drums and David Restivo on piano. It was a magical night of music. We had come together to play with our friends, and have fun, and were left, grinning like crazy people, in the light of the music that was made. (I’m still grinning.) By Sunday, the 13th Don, Judy and I were already planning a recording –no one wanted to let go of the magic.
It has taken a year, and a great deal of wonderful, intense work, and love, and talent to create what you are listening to - Don’s contributions as co-producer, composer and engineer, Judy’ s tireless managerial efforts, David’s spectacular arrangements and the joy and talent of Kieran and Daniel. Honestly, I just wonder at the fact that I’m in such company – it is joyous and humbling and I am so very happy to be part of this wonderful music! Enjoy this in health and happiness!
There certainly was a clear, "magical" connection when Julie and I first played together at JazzWorks -- right away there was comfort, synchrony, mystery and FUN! There was also an immediate mutual respect. It was like we'd been playing together for years. Our gigs since then have only reinforced the connection, as has this recording. Julie is one of the most soulful vocalists I've worked with. She sings very expressively, and her voice comes from right from her core: mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is a special experience to make music with her!
I met Kieran and David also at JazzWorks, and their playing was terrific. They were an obvious fit for joining Julie and me for future music making. Daniel came to the band after JazzWorks, and has worked in beautifully. Daniel and Kieran laid a rock solid and musically flexible foundation throughout the gigs and do so on this recording. David Restivo's work overall has been nothing short of brilliant. Youthful virtuosity and energy blend with a mature sensitivity and creativity to make him a wonderful and essential part of the lift that lets the band fly.
The tunes are an eclectic mix of pop tunes, classic standards and original compositions. I believe they reflect our varied backgrounds and experience in an honest way, and the arrangements (many are David’s) infuse the tunes with a strong modern Jazz sensibility. The music is very substantive, with plenty of sophisticated harmony and rhythm, and has been a worthwhile challenge for all us. Happily, we explored the music on the gigs before recording, which really helped us to embrace the challenge and be free with the music in the studio.