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Rick Braun

Rick Braun recently released Esperanto, an eclectic album that highlights music as the universal language. This CD is a bit different than previous Braun recordings. Braun stated that he "didn’t stick with smooth jazz formulas. [I] did what I wanted to do. I really enjoyed making it."

A cornucopia of vibes, Esperanto moves through an exciting blend of styles. "Daddy-O" jives with a steady soul, while "Sir W" kicks it up a notch. The Latin feel to "The Villa Di Costa" provides a romantic ambience. "Stereo" will set your toes to tapping while you get your groove going.

Having watched Braun perform many times in St. Louis, the man being interviewed was a surprise. The entertainer on stage is full of fire and vigor, while the guy behind the trumpet is quietly reflective. He took some time to tell the Jazz Review what he values most and his appreciation for getting there.

With regard to setting the pace for future musicians, Braun stated, "I’m not raising any bar or setting any challenge for anybody. I’m just doing what I love to do. If I have inspired somebody along the way, that’s wonderful. But, I really don’t look at it that way." Braun went on to explain that he plays for himself and is thankful that he has been lucky to be able to make a living doing what he loves.

Interestingly enough, Braun doesn’t listen to a lot of other music for his own personal inspiration. He prefers to retain his "individuality" and create music that personally inspires him and reflects his own style. "I think we all influence each other. To go about creating music as a derivative thing is a competitive thing, and that isn’t what music is about, " said Braun.

On the new album, Braun teamed up with his BWB partners, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown, for "Green Tomatoes." Full of hot vibes, this single release has maintained a steady airplay. "Norman and Kirk are two of the most talented, nicest people making music today. Having them play on "Green Tomatoes" was a lot of fun," stated Braun.

Braun doesn’t take his success lightly and has a strong appreciation for his musical heritage. "I think I’m totally blessed to have the opportunity I have and I hope I never forget that." While Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Clifford Brown inspired him, it was his family that shaped his outlook on his experiences. "My mom has been a major, major influence on my life." Braun’s mother was a self-taught musician with high expectations for her son. His mother was "very much a perfectionist when it came to music." While they had their moments, "she was my toughest critic, but was also my biggest fan."

Braun co-wrote, "Mother’s Day" with keyboardist Mitchell Foreman. A dedication to both of their mothers, this improvised waltz is touchingly beautiful. "Mother’s Day" is a delicate contrast to some of the driving rhythms found in the album. Listeners are allowed a brief glimpse into the private world of Rick Braun.

Braun plans to take his wife and children with him when he tours Germany in November. He will be the opening act for Vonda Shepard (featured performer on Ally McBeal). "[I’m] going back several notches backward and try to expand [my] fan base to a lot of people who don’t know who I am." He stated they will be "playing very beautiful halls" and that it was "going to be fun." His wife is from Germany and they plan to take some time to travel.

Braun is progressive in new directions for jazz, as well. "The Internet represents an opportunity for artists to reach out to the fan[s] directly . . . the Internet offers an alternative." He sees the Web as offering " direct options" for musical outlets.

Braun doesn’t appear to fear change and is comfortable in his own career direction. When asked where he plans to be in five years, he simply stated, "Hopefully continuing on doing exactly what I’m doing now." By sharing his gift of music, Braun is an artist who has found a common language that we can all understand.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Rick Braun
  • Interview Date: 10/1/2003
  • Subtitle: The Grooves of Success
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