Try to list David Braid’s recent musical accomplishments aloud and you’ll run out of breath quickly. Take a listen to his uncategorizable works as a composer and musician, and it’s not difficult to realize why Maclean’s Magazine has dubbed the Hamilton-born Braid “a jazz genius to call our own.” With his humble attitude and fiercely intelligent approach to music, Braid shares the HCA Recital Hall stage on November 12 at 2pm with multi-award winning saxophonist Mike Murley and an unstoppable rhythm section – Finnish bassist Johnny Åman and Danish drummer Anders Mogensen. Together, they form “The North” – a veritable jazz supergroup. We spoke to David Braid about his musical journey and asked him what’s in store for our Concert Series audience.

You’ve collaborated with Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts on concerts for several years. Can you tell us of your history with HCA and why it’s a place to which you continue to return? What does coming home to play in Hamilton mean to you?

My collaboration with HCA began in 2008 when I came to perform with my jazz sextet. I’ve returned nearly once per year ever since. I really appreciate that Vitek Wincza gives me carte blanche to present what I want, and doesn’t need to hear any of the reasons why. This makes HCA part of the process to which I bring new music to life, and it’s a bonus that this happens often in my hometown.

The North is a project that involves both Canadian and Scandinavian musicians. Is there a specific musical sensibility that you believe is shared by musicians from northern countries?

I think Canadians and Scandinavians share more things in common, compared to other parts of the world. It’s reasonable to think that our art and culture might be affected by our shared northern climate, small populations, compatible political systems, and geographical landscapes, among other things. Perhaps our shared compatibility might partially explain why the Canadian painters known as “The Group of Seven” received their first international recognition from Scandinavia. I’m generalizing here, but I think jazz musicians in Scandinavia and Canada share a common interest in merging both European and American styles – and that fusion defines the music we play in our quartet.

You’ve worked with Mike Murley for years. How did you meet Anders Mogensen and Johnny Åman? Can you tell us what drew you to them?

Mike and I worked with Anders and Johnny in different projects over the past 10 years in Denmark and Sweden. Our personal and musical compatibility made forming the group together very natural.

The North Quartet: (l-r) Anders Mogensen, David Braid, Johnny Åman, Mike Murley

What should Hamilton audiences expect at The North’s concert on November 12?

We will play music from the new album we are touring across Canada this month; Hamilton will be the final concert on a tour heading East beginning from Vancouver Island. Besides a couple of jazz standards, there are two main pieces we will play. Mike Murley’s “The Split” conjures imagery of Cape Split in his native province, Nova Scotia. We will also perform my composition “Lele’s Tune” which is a suite that connects folk music and contemporary rhythm in a new way.

Did you have a particular moment as a young musician that made you decide that a career as a professional artist was your life’s path? What advice would you give aspiring musicians who are considering a career in the field?

There wasn’t a defining moment that made me choose a career in music. However, there was certainly a moment when I felt an “inner music switch” firmly turn on. That switch ignited a kind of “inner-spring” of self-renewing energy to pursue a deeper knowledge of music. That seemed to pressurize a desire to make music and also share it. After those forces were in play, a career in music just seemed like a logical choice and possibly, a necessary choice.

My advice to young musicians is to avoid focusing on long-term career plans but rather focus on achieving the maximum amount of competency as a musician and a professional. At the very least, this will help establish a good reputation and help build positive relationships between like-minded musicians. Your reputation and relationships will hit a critical mass when you will find yourself lifted into the beginning of a career.

You’ve become a prolific artist with your boundary-crossing compositions for solo piano, jazz groups, chamber ensembles, orchestras, and film. How do you continue to push yourself moving forward and is there anything that you have not done musically that you are itching to experiment or play with in the future?

I keep my head down and try not to think too far ahead or behind where I am right now…so when you list out some things that I’ve done, I’m surprised how lucky I am! My daily aspiration is to make a small step forward to build something with better musical quality. There’s enough reward in that to keep myself satisfied. By doing that, it seems that big, and sometimes unanticipated, opportunities find me. My plan for the future is to continue on learning and building in the same way, then just trust that chances to publicly share my work will continue to flow.

 

Tickets:

Student: $15
Senior: $20
Regular: $25
Tickets for can be purchased online
or by calling 905-528-4020.
Buy Tickets

HCA would like to gratefully acknowledge Mr. Robert Summers-Gill for his ongoing support of the 2017/18 HCA Concert Series.

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