Downbeat Magazine Big Funk Review


Don Braden/
Karl Latham
Big Fun(k) Live
Recorded over a series of gigs at
Cecil’s Jazz Club in West
Orange, N.J., Big Fun(k) Live
brings together a powerhouse
quartet of old friends who seem
hell-bent on having a ball. It’s a
funky, electried jam on seven contemporary-leaning original tunes and
two covers (Beyonce’s “Deja Vu” and Lennon/McCartney’s “Lucy In
The Sky With Diamonds”) spanning a range of styles from bebop to
rock. The title, an obvious reference to one of Miles Davis’ electric-era
albums, pretty much says it all.
Saxophonist Don Braden was playing instrumental rock and funk
long before he ever became known as a Young Lion of straightahead
jazz in the ’80s—and it shows in his well-developed, hard-hitting solos,
which unfold with brains and brawn over the bedrock laid down by
drummer/co-leader Karl Latham, electric bassist Gary Foote (of Blood,
Sweat And Tears fame) and New York synth man Nick Rolfe. Big Fun(k)
Live is thick with compelling improvisations by outstanding instrumentalists
who are clearly enjoying every minute spent together onstage.
The tunes are decent, but the real meat of this recording can be found
in the expertly executed arrangements and the high-ying solos, which
must have been a gas to see and hear live in the club. —Ed Enright