Could one expect anything less than perfection from two of the most colossal and prolific names in all of smooth jazz? Richard Elliot, one of the original sultriest voices of smooth jazz sax for as many years as you wish to go back, and his label mate and co-CEO of ARTizen Music, master trumpeter/flugelhorn guru Rick Braun, have between them so much experience and albums that a personal library could be erected in dedication to their joint accomplishments easily. They prove here why they remain as accomplished as ever.
RnR is a prize piece that has probably been in the mental "crockpot" of these two for far too long. Still, what’s so incredible about this project is how it was actually born.... on the fly! These guys were actually writing the melodies while recording. Picture Braun with horn in one hand while controlling the soundboard with the other! You want to talk spontaneity? Add in their undeniable flair for effect, like doubling the horn section parts for "muscle" and using single trumpet, flugelhorn and tenor sax melodies, like that used in the older recordings of the 40s, 50s, & 60s, and you truly get a sense of how "connected" they are to the highly charged music they so easily create.
The album jumps off in clear Elliot/Braun fashion with the title track, tearing into it in a way that serves as the antithesis to anything resembling "RnR" in the conventional rest and relaxation sense of the acronym. The album then just continues with a cool rollercoaster-type ride. Down and smooth with "Sweet Somethin’," then up again, fast, furious, and with some dueling, doubling horns on "Curve Ball (a real sweatfest, that one!), slower-paced again with the hook-solid "The Stranger," a tune to be remembered for its soaring, alluring melody. Now, these guys have a constant signature funk with them anyway and nowhere is that more evident than on track eight "Down and Dirty," another horn-doubling cut that just has to be heard to be described by the ear. These are only examples of the many moods and stellar offerings on this magnificently conceived album. There are still tunes at which to marvel ("Two Heart Tango," "Q It Up," the sexy, bluesy "Sunday Night").
Also drawing on the solid and generous help from a such a star-studded array of polished colleagues as Lenny Castro and Jeff Lorber, only to name a couple, this is one album that proves to be worthy of all the accolades it will surely receive. It proves yet again that those at the top of their game are there for a very, very good reason.