June 23, 2007

It’s going to be a scorching hot summer of R n R

Soul-jazz stars Rick Braun & Richard Elliot unite for the album event of the year
Summer is about spontaneous, energetic fun and a bit of R n R with friends.  Trumpeter Rick Braun and saxman Richard Elliot plan to make this summer swelter.  Circle August 28th on your calendar as that’s the date the hitmen will deliver a cool-jazz treat in what bodes to be the album event of the year in the contemporary instrumental genre.  The dynamic duo wrote and produced R n R, a long-anticipated collection of original funk, R&B, jazz and pop songs that will be released on the ARTizen Music Group record label for which they partner.  Kicking the party off at radio is the groovy title track, an infectious horn-drenched romp that seems both familiar and fresh, which goes for adds June 25th.  However, a track from the album that previously was exclusively available via the ARTizen website, the breezy exotic romance of “Sao Paulo,” is already nearing the Top 10 on the Radio & Records chart.

BraunElliot_live.jpgWith 24 solo albums between them and a massive catalogue of chart-topping radio hits, the thrilling collaboration between Braun and Elliot has been in the making for over a decade.  They’ve toured together for years and have made guest appearances on each other’s records.  When they launched ARTizen Music Group with a couple of music industry veterans almost three years ago, it was only a matter of time before the two heavyweights stepped into the ring together to deliver a knockout album full of punchy beats & rhythms, potent melodies and collaborative sparks that are natural and have roots way beyond the music.  R n R was conceptualized on the fly as they entered Braun’s studio to record without any preconceived ideas.  Armed with grooves from a number of sources, including album contributor’s Jeff Lorber, Rex Rideout and Philippe Saisse, Elliot and Braun wrote the melodies while recording, which was a unique process for them, especially for Braun who played a horn with one hand while controlling the soundboard with the other.  Helping to fill up the tracks were some of their gifted friends such as Chris Standring, Dwight Sills, Gregg Karukas, Lenny Castro, Ricky Lawson and Nate Phillips.  The result is an album that has all the spontaneity and smoldering energy of a live performance.                 
“We’ve had so much fun playing together live that it was time for us to get together musically,” declared Elliot.  “We have different approaches yet they are complementary.  We called upon our roots (Elliot was a long-time member of Tower of Power and Braun played with War) and we constantly bounced ideas off each other.  As much as we let the songs develop and evolve from our interaction, the record was probably more honed and refined than other albums because we were constantly going over the work and tweaking and changing things.”
“Overall, I think the album is very energetic and percolates.  We didn’t want to overpower the melodies by just blasting a lot of horns in people’s faces.  In fact, we did the opposite by using single trumpet, flugelhorn and tenor sax melodies much like old recordings from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60’s, which gave it an intimate and warm sound.  The horn section parts were doubled to really give it that oomph and muscle.  We treated the lead instruments as would vocalists recording duets, which gave them each a personal voice,” explained Braun.            
Road warriors, Braun and Elliot are already out touring with the perennially successful Jazz Attack line-up that co-stars Peter White and Jonathan Butler.  They’ll be introducing more and more songs from the new album into their performances as the record release date nears.  Braun and Elliot expect to be working the road through the end of the year to support the album. 
Elliot began his recording career young while playing on songs by Motown legends Smokey Robinson and The Temptations.  He was still a teenager when he toured with Melissa Manchester.  That gig led to him spending five formative years playing in the mighty Tower of Power, who molded the impressionable musician into a passionate entertainer.  He put out his first solo album in 1976 and in subsequent years, the Scotland-born, Los Angeles-raised saxophonist became a pioneering voice in contemporary jazz by consistently scoring hit after hit while building a growing legion of fans year after year through his explosive concerts. 
Braun is a trumpeter-flugelhorn player-keyboardist who started his professional career by writing a Top 20 pop hit for REO Speedwagon (“Here With Me”).  The Allentown, Pennsylvania native has played in bands behind Rod Stewart, Sade, Tom Petty, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole and Crowded House.  As a producer, he’s guided #1 hits for David Benoit, Marc Antoine and Avenue Blue.  Since debuting as a solo artist in 1993, twice he has been honored as Gavin’s “Artist of the Year” in addition to collecting a Gavin “Album of the Year” trophy and “Best Producer” and “Best Brass Player” titles from the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards.     
Rick Braun and Richard Elliot’s R n R contains the following songs:
“R n R”
“Sweet Somethin’”
“Curve Ball”
“The Stranger”
“Da JR Funk”
“Que Paso”
“Better Times”
“Down and Dirty”
“Two Heart Tango”
“Q It Up”
“Sunday Night”
“Sao Paulo”

Catch Braun and Elliot performing on the following Jazz Attack dates (additional dates together and solo that run through the end of the year will be added):
June 21             Frazee Pavilion                           Kettering, OH
June 22             City of Southfield Civic Center    Detroit, OH
June 23             Rodney Strong Vineyards            Healdsburg, CA
July 14              Radisson Hotel                          Sacramento, CA
July 20              The Pageant                               St. Louis, MO
July 21              Chicago Theatre                         Chicago, IL
July 22              Hideaway Park                          Winter Park, CO
August 11          Long Beach Jazz Festival             Long Beach, CO
August 18          Sleep Train Pavilion                    Concord, CA
Additional information is available at www.artizenmusic.com, www.rickbraun.com and www.richardelliot.com.

Photo credits: Bonnie Schendell (Smoothviews.com)

Posted by Peter Böhi at June 23, 2007 9:33 AM