If you’ve ever seen Rick Braun perform, you know what a high-energy entertainer he is. But ask him to talk about his career and the gregarious, charismatic musician-songwriter-producer becomes visibly uncomfortable and awkwardly quiet.
“The collective moments are one big unfolding story that’s still not done. I just sit back and be grateful to still be making music with friends,” says the humble trumpeter-flugelhorn player-vocalist Braun, a consistent chart-topper who has amassed a catalogue of No. 1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart and radio hits throughout his solo career that began in earnest in 1992.
One of those memorable moments for Braun occurred twenty years ago at influential Los Angeles radio station 94.7 The Wave with friend and fellow contemporary jazz star Peter White. The two had a hit from Braun’s 1994 breakthrough release Beat Street entitled “Club Harlem,” a horn and nylon string guitar duet. It was a track that came at a time when both artists were being propelled from being first-call sidemen to solo recording artists. Braun recalls turning to his frequent collaborator and asking, “How long do you think we’ll be able to keep doing this?”
As Braun cranks up the machine in advance of his 16th release, Can You Feel It, he says, “I’m grateful that people still want to hear what I have to say [musically]. That’s beautiful and miraculous.”
You can feel his genuine sense of gratitude as much as you can feel the joy he pours into his music and the fun he has creating it. On Can You Feel It, Braun fondly conjures the spirit of Beat Street in a return to his jazz-funk roots while continuing to record and collaborate with old and new musical friends.
“When I started working on this album, which was about a year in the making, there were two goals that I had in mind. I wanted it to be really organic and have a lot of my friends playing on it. Young players—like Third Richardson, who is one of the best drummers in the world and Nathaniel Kearney Jr., an extraordinary bassist—melding together with the old faithful; guys like Nate Phillips [bass] and Randy Jacobs [guitar]. It’s a return to the sound and style of Beat Street, which essentially was a tribute to my years playing in War. I took out all of the sequencing with one exception and made the record like a garage band using great live players. It was a lot of fun making the record. It’s energetic and earthy. We hit it hard—kind of like Tower of Power—capturing the energetic, funky horn band sound. I wanted lots of horn section parts on the album,” explains Braun.
more at rickbraun.com