Peter Gamble, Jazz Journal
Whatever the situation, saxophonist Don Braden always appears to be effortlessly in control of a piece without resorting to overstatement – as befits a musician releasing his 19th album. As the title implies, the inspiration for his latest album is the music of Earth, Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder, music he grew up with in the 1970s. There are four pieces from each source.
Braden wrings out just about everything on offer from these instantly recognisable popular songs and he does this in a jazz vein, rather than in a fusion mode; only “After The Love Has Gone” is close to the original arrangement. He mainly sticks to tenor but the two ballad performances where he turns to flute are welcome, effective deviations.
He performs with two trios who play in a similar manner, providing nothing that’s complicated, just giving the leader a buoyant cushion that it’s difficult to argue with. McCune and Hirahara deserve mention for their overall excellence. If you enjoy the music of the soul giants given a jazz twist, then this one is for you.