CD - Yours Truly |
CD - Yours Truly
If Allentown, Pennsylvania native Rick Braun had his way,
he would be a drummer today. Rick traces his critical decision to the third
grade at Allentown's now-demolished Stevens Elementary School. "With a
big family and a small house, drums weren't exactly smiled upon." The trumpet,
his eventual instrument of choice, was a "little less painful" for
other family members than his other choice - the violin. Today, no one is complaining.
It seems that music was always going to be Braun's career choice,
even when he was a student at Trexler Middle School and Dieruff High. "I
really couldn't do anything else. Mine was a career by default. I always had
this love of music, and it always came fairly easily to me. It hasn't been a
real struggle for me. From an early age, I was playing along with all the Herb
The form and direction of Rick's musical career has changed
over time, however. While attending the prestigious Eastman School of Music,
Rick took up with other like-minded musicians and formed a group, Auracle, a
Auracle recorded two albums - both out of print - before disbanding.
"Auracle was a lot more adventurous and complicated than the other fusion
groups that were working at the time, so that meant we were doomed to failure,"
The first of Rick's big "breaks" in the business
came in the area of songwriting and being a background musician/vocalist. One
of the tunes he wrote for REO Speedwagon, "Here With Me," hit the
Billboard Top 20.
Rick's move to contemporary jazz came about by accident. He
traveled to Toronto to shop several demo tapes. One music publisher who listened
to Rick's instrumentals suggested that he contact Mesa/Bluemoon, whose main
offices, ironically, were about two miles from Rick's Studio City home.
In '93, Rick released his first solo album on Mesa, Intimate
Secrets. In '94, the composer and producer released Night Walk. Rick was the
touring trumpeter for Sade on the "Love Deluxe" tour and that influence
resulted in a huge leap for him in style and content from his first to second
album. Listening to Night Walk is almost like listening to Sade instrumentally.
Night Walk grabbed Adult Alternative's top Most Added honors. In that same year,
'94, Rick also released Christmas Present.
Rick's 1995 album Beat Street, led the pack again. His influence
for this he says is thinking back on his days in War's touring band in the mid
'80's. After the fact, those memories had a major musical impact on his writing
and on our ears. "This is definitely a more spontaneous recording than
anything I've done before. Instead of sitting in a room by myself, composing
the music before going into the studio, I just took my inspiration from a bunch
of guys getting together and playing, with no idea of what we were going to
come up with".
Beat Street topped the contemporary jazz charts for a record-breaking
13 weeks, eventually becoming the No. 1 smooth jazz record of the year, garnering
Braun Gavin's Artist of the Year and Album of the Year in 1996.
Body and Soul topped that with 28 consecutive weeks in the
Top 15 on Billboard's contemporary jazz charts. It went on to become No. 3 on
the NAC/Smooth Jazz album charts, yielding the No. 1 hit single "Notorious"
and garnering another Artist of the Year Award from Gavin.
His next release, Full Stride, topped the charts for 20 weeks,
and his numerous collaborations with artists Richard Elliot, Brian Bromberg,
Chris Standring, Jeff Golub, Peter White and 3rd Force have led to multiple
No. 1 records. As a producer, he has delivered No. 1 hits for keyboardist David
Benoit, guitarist Marc Antoine, Avenue Blue and saxophonist Bryan Savage, and
was honored in February of 2000, as "Best Producer" and "Best
Brass Player" at the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards.
Rick has worked as a sideman, touring with such rock and pop
stars as Rickie Lee Jones, Sade, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Glenn Frey, Natalie
Cole, Tom Petty, Crowded House, Phoebe Snow and of course, War. In addition
to recording and touring as a solo artist, Rick has virtually become an in-house
producer for record label Mesa/Bluemoon. In the past few years, he's held the
creative reins on several critically acclaimed projects, including two albums
for acoustic guitarist Peppino D'Agostino, two for guitar and violin duo Willie
and Lobo, and a radio chart-topping contemporary jazz album by Avenue Blue.
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