“I just want to continue to explore the boundaries of what I am capable of as a musician,” declares acclaimed chart-topping trumpeter, composer and producer Rick Braun. Known for his impeccable technical chops, melodic wizardry and keen compositional prowess, the consummate Los Angeles based musician has been thrilling audiences for decades. Braun has made a mark staying true to his own musical voice and eclectic influences that have allowed him to collaborate across genre with some of the biggest names in music including Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, Sade, Natalie Cole and REO Speedwagon. Having clenched over 20 #1 Smooth Jazz hits, Braun has collaborated with all of the brightest stars in contemporary jazz from Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown and Peter White, to Dave Koz, Boney James and Brian Culbertson. February 24, 2017 Shanachie Entertainment will release Rick Braun’s 17th recording as a leader, Around The Horn. The dynamic trumpeter’s label debut is an adventurous mix of originals as well as exhilarating reinventions of hits by Coldplay, Alicia Keys and Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez. Shanachie VP of A&R, Danny Weiss states, “Rick's tone, chops and phrasing link him to the jazz giants of the past. He can hold his own in any setting. Yet he communicates to a vast audience far beyond the jazz aficionado. His warmth, wit and musical spirit make him a great communicator - a hit maker!”
Rick Braun arrived at the title Around The Horn as a way to convey his ambition to fully explore his diverse influences. “It is kind of a play on words using the saying ‘around the horn.’ In the old days before the Panama Canal people had to travel around Cape Horn in South America to get from New York to California and it was a very dangerous journey. This record is all about the trumpet. I wanted to push myself to explore the horn more deeply.” On the album’s title track Braun invites fellow trumpeter Till Brönner from Germany for a splendid trumpet expedition as the two challenge one another to reach new heights. Around The Horn opens with the intoxicating and alluring "So Strong." Braun's warm trumpet and valve trombone soar above a hypnotic and exotic groove that is underscored by pulsating global rhythms and sultry voices. “To me ‘So Strong’ has a real Brazilian feel and the rhythmic guitar part is very South African,” explains Braun. “On this record, I wanted to take you on a musical journey and around the world.” Braun transports us to Portugal with his scintillating composition “Vila Vita” featuring acoustic guitarist Peter White. “I love Peter White!” exclaims Braun. The duo has scored several hits through the years including “Club Harlem” and “Missing In Venice.” “Vila Vita” was inspired by a trip Braun spent with his family at a jazz festival in Portugal. “It was one of the most amazing experiences,” recalls Braun. “I was working on the record and played some of the songs on a rooftop balcony that we had. I felt like there needed to be a song for the beautiful experience that I had in Portugal and ‘Vila Vita’ is it.”
Braun shows off his versatility on Around The Horn with a few surprising and imaginative re-workings of notable pop tunes. He explains, “This album is a bit different for me in that it reflects some of what is going on in R&B and pop music now. I really tried to pull from those influences and sounds as opposed to making a retro inspired record. I am hoping the music will bring some of my fans into this new generation of music as well.” Braun takes on Charlie Puth’s Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 duet with Selena Gomez, “We Don’t Talk Anymore.” This is a song that Braun was introduced to by his 16-year-old daughter Emma. “Everyday my daughter goes outside in back of the house and listens to and dances to all of this wonderful pop music and the music just takes over her,” explains Braun. “This is not my music or the music of my generation but I was listening and started hearing some incredible tunes and so I decided to use some for inspiration. It’s a new journey into the realm of contemporary pop music both sonically and content wise. I use a lot of sequenced sounds and samples that hopefully will sound fresh and interesting to my fans.” Braun’s tender trumpet and flugelhorn lines along with Peter White’s sailing guitar transform this number into a delightful rhapsodic version. Around The Horn also showcases Alicia Keys’ “In Common,” which Braun turns into a haunting trip-hoppy, tropical house inspired elixir that promises to have you dancing. Braun also draws inspiration from British alt-rock sensation Coldplay and their first true American hit, “Yellow.” Braun enlists help from multi-instrumentalist and vocalist John Stoddart, who also co-wrote a number of the songs on Around The Horn.
“John Stoddart is an amazingly talented singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and producer. He is just an awesome human being. We toured together with BWB (a group that included Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown), and we were label mates way back in the day on Warner Brothers. I have been a fan of his for the past 20 years,” shares Braun."
John actually suggested we record ‘In Common’ and he came up with the beautiful re-harmonization and incredible arrangement on ‘Yellow.’ This record would not be what it is without John’s help. I am grateful for his contribution and I love him.” Braun and Stoddart let loose and have some fun with a funky and bluesy original they penned together “Everything Is Alright.” “This song is another example of the genius of John. It has a Ramsey Lewis or Eddie Harris ‘Cold Duck Time’ feel. At the same time sonically, I wanted to pull from Bruno Mars in terms of the sonic palette with the horn section sound and the big kick drum that you hear.” The snappy and electrifying "Pool Dancer," opens the door to Braun's creative fancy as he stretches out and gets down to the nitty-gritty and concocts soulful flights of fancy trading off with himself on trumpet and flugelhorn. The dazzling "Love Take Me" features the chart-topping soul jazz diva and Shanachie label-mate, Lindsey Webster. “Working with Lindsey was absolutely fantastic” shares Braun. “I have to thank my dear friend and co-manager Bud Harner for his input on this one because it was initially an instrumental cut. There aren’t a lot of people in the world that can write lyrics and sing like Lindsey Webster does. She is an amazing talent and I have nothing but great things to say about her.” Also included on Around The Horn are two more songs that John Stoddart and Rick Braun co-wrote; the vibey, R&B flavored ballad “I Love You More” and the free-flowing cool swing of “One South Beach Night.”
“Every time I sit down to play my horn, I realize the shortcomings and the amount of information that I do not have. It is a humbling experience,” says Rick Braun. “For me it is important that I continue to keep my horizons open and keep looking forward and try to improve on what I do.” Braun was blessed to discover music at an early age. “When I started playing as an eight year old boy, I loved it right away. I loved the smell of the horn, the sound that it made and everything about it and I continue to love it.” There was a time when Braun was contemplating pursuing medical school but luckily for us music won out. Still a student of the music, of late Braun has been intently listening to Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown and Chet Baker. In fact he is working on a tribute concert featuring Chet Baker’s music. Compositionally Braun says, “My influences are all over the map. But a few of my favorites are Earth, Wind and Fire, The Brecker Brothers, Quincy Jones, The Crusaders and Ramsey Lewis.” Coming of age in Allentown, PA (about an hour outside of Philadelphia), Braun was acutely aware of the volume of jazz musicians who developed in his area. “The Brecker Brothers were a huge influence. My dear friend Jeff Lorber is also from Philadelphia and Keith Jarrett is from Allentown. There is a rumor in my family that Jarrett is actually my third cousin! “ Rick Braun has enjoyed a career longevity that is rare in this business. He has crafted his own distinctive sound and become a staple on contemporary jazz radio. He has produced No. 1 hits for David Benoit, Marc Antoine and former Rod Stewart band sidekick Jeff Golub. Braun achieved collaborative success on massive hits with Boney James, as a member of RnR with saxophonist Richard Elliot and with BWB, a powerhouse trio completed by Grammy® winners Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown.
Braun has hosted an annual New Year’s Eve event for almost a decade that benefits autism. His daughter is autistic and Braun has made it a mission to bring awareness to autism. “One of my passions is just trying to help people who are affected by autism. It is really important for me to just reach out and help wherever I can,” shares the inspiring musician. Around The Horn follows Braun’s 2014 CD Can You Feel It and further ensconces the trumpeter as among one of the greatest of his generation. Braun concludes, “For me music is not just about going out touring and making a living. Music has always been a source of joy, almost a therapy. When things are not going right or when I am not feeling right about myself, if I can get into my studio and make some music and dig into that world, it always makes me feel better. It is an absolute pleasure seeing the joy that it brings to others. I love every moment of it!”
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