July 24, 2014
It’s been awhile since we were treated to a CD from the personable and polished veteran saxman Tom Braxton, but the wait has paid off as he rolls out The Next Chapter, a bouncy energized set of originals and covers that truly constitute the next entry in the book of experiences and accomplishments by one who knows the ins and outs of jazz as a whole and diverse entity.
Having worked with the best in the business, performing as a sideman and featured artist on such venues as The Smooth Jazz Cruise and countless other live sets, and offering his services to others in the studio when needed, Braxton has proved over the years to be a superb solo artist, as well. I personally became familiar with the saxman in 2005 after his release of Bounce, and he’d had a couple of releases prior to that. In fact, this release marks his nearly two decades in the business, and the dividends for such longevity show clearly here.
He is joined here by some of those he has come to know well over the years, and they all respect the man’s knowledge and talent immensely. Heavyweights like Bob James, Earl Klugh, Peter White, and the late great drummer Ricky Lawson all offer superb support here.
Kicking off the party is the title track, full of drive and strength. Not letting up at all, some totally jazzy gems follow like the hook-rich “Tuesday Morning,” the exotic beauty and rhythm of “Sunrise in Malawi” featuring the smooth style of guitarist Klugh, the “house beat” of “New Horizons” offered up by the wonderfully gifted Lawson (one who will be sorely missed by peers and fans alike for years to come), the tropical feel of the bossa nova-flavored “Nuevo!,” and convincing covers of hits by Bread (“Make It With You” featuring the English guitar giant Peter White) and the O’jays (“I Love Music,” again featuring the magic of Lawson).
It may have been 5 years awaiting The Next Chapter of Braxton’s musical book, but now that it’s here, you should find it fun to read” and feel. – Ronald Jackson