DAVID BRAID concert review in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Braid’s jazz complex, surprising

July 10, 2012 – 3:16am BY STEPHEN PEDERSEN  

david-braid-feb-5A few years ago, much taken with the music endlessly pouring out of pianist David Braid’s chaotic musical imagination through his fingertips, I said that if Mozart played jazz he’d be David Braid.

I have to widen that description after his solo appearance Sunday night in the Carleton at the Halifax Jazz Festival. He’d also be Schumann and Chopin.

There is still, more than ever, Mozart’s clarity of touch and balance in his playing and also, despite the complexity of its textures, a classic voicing between melody and bass.

But his compositions, mostly taken from his 2012 Juno Award-winning album Verge, show a harmonic complexity mindful of Schumann and the keyboard-ranging virtuosity of Chopin.

And always in his music is the element of surprise.

The music doesn’t go where you expect because you inevitably focus on the end result as it streams from the keyboard.

But as he continues playing, he reveals more and more of the matrix, of the molten realignment of atomic particles boiling away at the heart of his mind.

Braid’s style can be described much more simply as two-handed. The invention is neither centred in his right hand nor his left. They are melodically and harmonically one, eight fingers and two thumbs firing away with amazing equality of touch, tone and function, seamlessly integrated.

The music he played ranged from a Chinese folk song to a gospel experience called Reverence.

He prepared the piano for Spring Garden Night to give it a Chinese lute timbre by placing a half-dozen chopsticks between strings in the mid-treble range, and striking with the palm of his hand directly on the soundboard (or possibly the pin-block) in the bass to create a deep thunder clap.

He alternated between keyboard and direct playing of the strings to evoke the picturesque mood and melody of Chinese folk song, primitive in its simplicity and sophisticated in its imagery.