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Artists - George Braith

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Recording period between

1963-1964

Multi-reedist George Braith was one of the very few jazz musicians to follow in the footsteps of Rahsaan Roland Kirk in playing multiple instruments at the same time. Born George Braithwaite on June 27, 1939, in New York City, Braith's West Indian parents encouraged all of their nine children to pursue music, especially for church; at age ten, Braith formed a Calypso band and soon began studying woodwinds. At 15, his jazz quintet played a summer in the Catskills, and at 17, he was discovered by critic Nat Hentoff; after graduating high school, Braith toured Europe with his quintet, studied at the Manhattan School of Music, and gigged around the East Coast. He began to develop his two-horn technique in 1961, using a stritch (a type of straight alto) and a soprano sax that were configured to be played with one hand apiece; he also developed a double horn, dubbed the Braithophone, which consisted of two sopranos welded together. Braith signed with Blue Note and, in 1963, appeared on John Patton's Blue John and recorded his own debut album, Two Souls in One; it combined soul-jazz and folk melodies, plus the lengthy, popular "Braith-a-Way." His next two Blue Note albums, Soul Stream and Extension, found him continuing to improve his technique and compositional skill, though he began to move away from his two-horn technique. After leaving Blue Note, Braith recorded two sessions for Prestige, 1966's Laughing Soul and 1967's more outside Musart. He also opened a New York club called Musart, which was an important avant-garde venue for several years before Braith moved to Europe and closed it down. Braith eventually returned to New York, where he continued his experiments with multiple horns and worked as both a club and street musician. ~ Steve Huey

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