Combining generations of musicians with varying degrees of experience in one group can sometimes spell disaster. Different levels of experience means different levels of ability, and different levels of ability within a group can impose limitations on the music. The Davidson/Murley/Braid Quintet,
on the other hand, is, by all accounts, an exception to this statement. Pianist David Braid attests that even though the three names leading the group are separated by years, their compatibility is undeniable.
“It’s an interesting cross-section of a couple of generations—almost three generations—of musicians,” explains Braid. “The three leaders are drawing heavily from three different periods and three contrasting background sources. Therefore, each leader is bringing something completely different to the table.”
The other two leaders, saxophonists Mike Murley and Tara Davidson, represent the opposite ends of the experience spectrum. Murley is one of Canada’s foremost jazz saxophonists, an instructor at York University and has played on nine Juno Award-winning recordings. Davidson, conversely, is still in the early stages of her career and at one point studied under Murley. Between the teacher and the student sits Braid, who describes himself as being the middleman of the group.
“In this group we have a veteran and one of the greatest saxophone players in our country,” says Braid. “[Murley] has been established for a very long time. Tara, who is Mike Murley’s student, is in the spring of her career. You can hear how her playing is derivative of Mike’s playing and how it’s become different. I’m coming into that middle level now—pre-veteran, post-newbie?”
Braid has been actively touring for almost a decade and is well past his musical puberty. He did not begin experimenting with jazz until he was in his 20s, focusing more on classical music in his late teens. His first introduction with jazz may have been late, but he has more than compensated for it ever since.
“My high school band teacher told me to investigate jazz music,” says Braid. “That could have been the first time I heard jazz, really past the formative years of musical education. I think my playing exploits a lot of qualities in classical music that have not come to prominence in the jazz idiom.”
Braid’s classically-informed jazz music is but one selling point of the incredibly talented Davidson/Murley/Braid Quintet, not to mention the highly-skilled rhythm section of Jim Vivian on bass and Ian Froman on drums. Impressive as each member is in their own right, together they form an ensemble worthy of much praise—three leaders, three generations, one great band.