Liner Notes – Chemistry

Liner Notes for Chemistry

Reflections from Don:

Chemistry is the second recording of the Trio of Liberty. Joris and I formed this group as a way to explore a more open style of jazz improvisation, with no chordal instruments and with remarkable guest drummers. The previous Trio album, Conversations, featured Matt Wilson and Gene Jackson. This one features Jeff “Tain” Watts and the legendary Louis Hayes.

Each version of the Trio of Liberty has its own chemistry (its own formula and reactions, if you will) based on the featured drummer (the catalyst), but always incorporates dynamic communication, melodic improvisation, harmonic and arrangement creativity and infectious swing. It is not necessarily “easy” music, but the unique clarity and open sound of this style of trio are certainly special.

My colleague and dear friend Joris is relentlessly creative. He consistently seeks new and different ways to perform and arrange songs, while still keeping firm footing in classic jazz elements, particularly swing, interaction, improvisation and the blues. Our musical “chemistry” was evident early on, both in the technical sense (as musical “chemists” exploring the world) and, more significantly, in the spiritual sense – feeling that special connection shared by compatible souls. So over the decades we have pushed and inspired one another through all kinds of projects, including many tours, recordings, orchestral compositions, educational endeavors and more. Most importantly though, we truly have fun playing together, as we hope you’ll hear on Chemistry.

Reflections from Joris:

In the spring of 1992, a couple of months after moving from Amsterdam to New York, I met Don Braden and we instantly felt a musical connection, or “chemistry” as we like to call it now.

Don is a man on a mission, always ready to play and never tired of looking for opportunities to create, perform or document the music. We’ve had frequent situations of heavy traveling on multiple flights, teaching a long workshop, while being jet-lagged; but under any circumstance it’s never a problem to poke him with my crazy creative ideas, because Braden on his horn always delivers. We have traveled the world together for almost 30 years and are on some 20 CDs together. Chemistry is our 5th CD of shared leadership after Pay As You Earn (1994), Star Eyes (Brotherhood Project – 2004), Conversations (2017) and In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock (2020).

Don wrote two originals: “Steps”, a 14-bar minor blues in 6/4, and the lovely ballad, “Morning”, which we play as a duo. He also brought two jazz tunes: “Dizzy’s Business” to get into a “chemistry battle” with Louis Hayes, and “Steepian Faith” as a tribute to his time in the 80s with Tain in the Wynton Marsalis Quintet (Kenny Kirkland also played in that group). I wrote “The Optimist”, and added spice to some other classics. I suggested to Tain to change the tempo on “One Finger Snap” at designated spots during solos. On “Song For My Father”, I asked Louis Hayes (who was with Horace Silver in the 50s) to lay down his unique swing feel, and to play “Unit Seven” in a late-night-slow-bluesy groove, while featuring Don on flute. We like the results of this “chemistry” and we hope you enjoy.