Rick Braun--All It Takes

It comes as no surprise that trumpeter/producer extraordinaire Rick Braun’s latest release, All It Takes, is a treat, since that's usually the case with this master of the smooth. 

Having already produced label mate Richard Elliot’s hot new release, Rock Steady, Braun collaborates with noted keyboardist/producer Philippe Saisse to set forth some of the funkiest and most melodic material I’ve heard from him to date.  Loaded with lots of rhythm, drive, and sassiness, the tone of this one is at a distinctively different level from much of his previous material, although Braun has never been one to slouch in the studio.

Cutting loose from the beginning with a solid, driving little number laced with a Latin touch, “Tijuana Dance?” (clever, huh?), the trumpeter dances through this entire album with equal doses of attitude, self-confidence, and charisma.  His “Puerto Allegre Jam” is drenched in a combination of funk and island exoticism, a very potent fusion here.  The pensive title track is quite effective and grants us a glimpse at the soul of Braun through the soulful notes of his trumpet while “Sleeveless in Seattle” toys with the funk element again and sports a crisp horn-tight hook.  The album closes on another mellow, pensive note with “Freddie Was Here.”  It’s one that can leave you sitting in a reflective state long after the music has stopped. 

Having successfully partnered with Richard Elliot to create and own what is now Artistry Music, Braun has enjoyed not only the pleasure of signing such superb talent as saxmen Paul “Shilts” Weimar (of Down to the Bone fame) and Jackiem Joyner but also must be having the time of his life as he realizes that he is still at the top of his own game in writing, producing, and performing.  This latest effort is proof positive of his continuing commitment to providing quality to his fans and the universe of smooth jazz. -- Ronald Jackson