Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Rick Braun & Friends

Berks07_BraunFriends.jpgSaturday evening we were in for a treat by Rick Braun & Friends giving a special concert to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the festival. The friends Rick brought with him were Ron Reinhardt on keyboards, Stanley Sargeant on bass, Rayford Griffin on drums, Dwight Sills on guitar and a horn section consisting of his brother Ross Braun and Nick Lane on trombones, Jimmy Roberts on sax and an additional trumpet player. Rick opened the concert with his proven habit to wander to the stage from the back of the audience playing his instrument this way creating an instant rapport with the crowd, the first song featured a great solo by saxophonist Jimmy Roberts. Then saxophone player Richard Elliot entered the stage raising the bar a notch with his muscular playing, before the great Jonathan Butler gave us a beautiful rendition of his song "Sarah, Sarah" which created enthusiastic responses from the audience. Rick Braun was the party man cheering the crowd, his cover of Bill Withers' classic "Use Me" with some audience participation was a highlight of the concert. Another cool part was the battle of the trombones having Ross Braun and Nick Lane duelling on their horns, after all fun and entertainment was the order of the evening! This was also true for Richard Elliot's version of "People Make The World Go Round" having the saxophonist cowering just emitting growling sounds from his instrument, which was fun to watch. Saxophonist Jackiem Joyner is the latest addition to the roster of Artizen Records, the label run by Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, and therefore got an opportunity during the concert to be introduced to the fans. Jackiem Joyner played a great song from his upcoming release Babysoul and won the hearts of the crowd with his soulful and smooth playing. At the end of the concert Richard Elliot gave us a heartfelt version of his signature song "When A Man Loves A Women" which brought him again to his knees, then Jonathan Butler came to the rescue, helped him up and finished the song with a rousing vocal, which was truly mesmerizing. The crowd cheered for more so Jonathan Butler performed his hit song "Lies" which brought a very entertaining evening to its end.