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Rick Braun is in high demand these days, both as a trumpeter and a producer - he certainly has his thumb on the pulse of today's adult contemporary music. His solo debut on Warner Brother, hot on the heels of last year's successful collaboration with Boney James on Shake It Up , should further extend his mastery of the idiom.
The first four tunes are the most jazz-oriented and satisfying; they come complete with catchy melodies, infectious live rhythms, and thoughtful arrangements - clean but not overly glossy. Braun alternates between open and muted trumpet, and turns in solos that are a bit more adventurous than you might expect from a commercially-oriented album. About half-way through, the program turns more to the programmed background tracks and moves more into the "romantic evening" groove. To my ears, the sweet-soul vocals ("Your World" and "Song for You") seem a bit formulaic and lower the bar on creativity a couple notches. "Middle of the Night" is sort of "Chuck Mangione meets the click track." There are tasty touches here and there, such as a nice tenor solo and interesting background brass parts on "Simplicity," and Braun's expressive balladry on the closer, "Emma." Overall, this is an enjoyable and well-executed program of contemporary work by one of the genre's leading proponents. (Warner Bros. 47994)
Track Listing: Car Wash 2000; Kisses in the Rain; Use Me; Grover's Groove; Your World; Middle of the Night; One for the Girls; Song for You; Simplicity; Emma's Song. (43:30)
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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