Berks Jazz Fest 2012: Richard Elliot & Rick Braun

Sunday afternoon at the last day of the festival, R'n'R aka trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot appeared at the Crowne Plaza ballroom, they were supported by Ron Reinhardt on keyboards, Frank "Third" Richardson on drums and Nate Phillips on bass plus a guitar player. They opened their show with a couple of great funky tracks that had both players feed off each other, providing fluid jazzy lines on their horns. Richard Elliot picked up his EWI for an intro, then picking up his sax to play his version of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues", which had Third Richardson kick his drums so hard that the kick drum broke, needing a replacement. Next was "Notorious" that featured Rick Braun on the flugelhorn, segueing nicely into a swinging version of "Wade In The Water" with minimal accompaniment on the organ. Richard Elliot played "Boom Town", a track from his new CD In The Zone, followed by Rick Braun doing "The Good Life", a classic song by Tony Bennett, which was recorded with full orchestra on his latest CD Sings With Strings, he opened the song on his flugelhorn and then sang romantically, which was received very well. After that, the mood was set for Richard Elliot doing his crowd pleasing version of "When A Man Loves A Woman", despite the fact that he played this song numerous times, he put his whole heart into it and played the song as if it was the first time. Then they kicked up the energy with another funky instrumental, that had Third Richardson break his bass drum a second time, needing another replacement. While another drum kit was installed, the two horn players did an accapella straight ahead jazz tune displaying their incredible technical abilities. Now with the mood set, they played a smoking straight ahead jazz rendition of "Night In Tunisia", before they went back to the funk with Eddie Kendricks' "Keep On Truckin'", Richard Elliot used his EWI as a vocoder, which had the crowd cheer along. They wrapped up the show with "Grazing In The Grass", and gave us as an encore a Chicago blues. This was a very entertaining show with a few unexpected surprises, most notably some straight ahead jazz, which was very welcome.