Home > Reviews > Emily Braden’s Soul Walk a Major Artistic Success

Emily Braden’s Soul Walk a Major Artistic Success

July 7, 2009

You read it here first.Vocalist Emily Braden’s debut studio album, Soul Walk, co-written, arranged,img321 and produced by New York pianist/composer/producer Misha Piatigorsky, is such a resounding artistic success that it has the potential to launch Braden into the first rank of contemporary jazz vocalists.

Recorded last year in New York and full of that city’s musical energy, Soul Walk announces Braden as one of the most exciting female jazz vocalists to emerge in years. That’s no surprise to Victoria audiences, of course, where the 27 year-old, originally from Boise, Idaho, has lived, studied and performed for the last eight years, but it will be news to those jazz fans who will be hearing her for the first time once this album gets the exposure it deserves.

It also confirms yet again that Piatigorsky, who spends his summers in Victoria (his wife is from here) performing and teaching jazz at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, is a truly gifted composer, arranger and producer (besides being an in-demand New York pianist). His evocative, shape-shifting arrangements and inspired use of instrumentation augment and strengthen the pure excitement and energy Braden generates with her soulful, versatile voice on the six original tunes and six covers that comprise this landmark recording.

It’s hard to pick an all-out winner here, since all the tunes, from the high-energy, get-up-and-move Testify that kicks things off to the sweet and tender rendering of the Herb Ellis ballad Detour Ahead that completes the album, are beautifully realized, each contributing to a dazzling palate of sonic colour that showcases the versatility of Braden’s voice and Piatigorsky’s unbounded musical imagination. But two original tunes, Wallflower’s Fantasy and Georgia O’Keefe, are particular standouts for their lyric and sonic artistry. Think of the best of Joni Mitchell (at her jazziest) and Herbie Hancock (at his most innovative) and you have a sense of the quality we’re talking about here.

If this album isn’t picked up by a major record label in the US and Canada, I’ll eat my hat – no, make that my entire record collection.

You can hear two tunes from the album at Braden’s MySpace page here:

http://www.myspace.com/emilybraden

– Rick Gibbs

Stay tuned for more on Emily Braden. I’ll soon be running an interview with her as I preview her upcoming gigs in Victoria and on Hornby Island. This week she’s off to Boise for a CD launch in her hometown. The album, by the way, will soon be available on line through iTunes.

© 2009 Rick Gibbs and Island Jazz. Please see the copyright info in the sidebar for permitted uses.
Categories: Reviews
  1. July 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    When Emily came to Salt Spring Island last year and sang at Fulford Hall, I felt an inexplicably deep, soul-gripping connection. It must have been what people felt when Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin sang in intimate venues when their careers were about to launch. She sang beyond herself that night, and it was unforgettable.

  2. Linda
    July 16, 2009 at 10:06 am

    This has become my favorite jazz cd!! She is right up there with the greats!!! Good for you EMILY!

  3. Erika
    July 9, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    AMEN!!! I love this cd!!! Its on continuous replay in my car, on my ipod and in my home.

    The music is mesmerizing, the vocals warm and sultry, and the lyrics are thought-provoking and fun.

    It showcases Emily Braden’s talents beautifully; she truly is a fantastic musical storyteller. This is one addictive cd! Enjoy!

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