Rick Braun - R n R (2007)

Rick Braun
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If "easy listening" weren't already a catchphrase it would most certainly apply here.  The Rick Braun, Richard Elliot collaboration, R n R is probably the most apropos coincidence in music title in years.  This masterwork of comfortable grooves show conclusively why these are among the gurus of the smooth jazz genre.

Collaborators behind the scenes as well as the studio, the duo founded ARTtizen Music Group in 2005, proving that playing together is not their only thing.  Each has distinguished himself as a solo artists and band member.  Braun has made more than a few waves working with Boney James as well as the trio BWB, featuring Norman Brown Kirk Whalum and himself. Elliot is a former member of one of funk's premiere ensembles, as well as a major jazz headliner.  All of that knowledge is assembled in silky smoothness that truly satisfies.

If "easy listening" weren't already a catchphrase it would most certainly apply here.  The Rick Braun, Richard Elliot collaboration, R n R is probably the most apropos coincidence in music title in years.  This masterwork of comfortable grooves show conclusively why these are among the gurus of the smooth jazz genre.

Collaborators behind the scenes as well as the studio, the duo founded ARTtizen Music Group in 2005, proving that playing together is not their only thing.  Each has distinguished himself as a solo artists and band member.  Braun has made more than a few waves working with Boney James as well as the trio BWB, featuring Norman Brown Kirk Whalum and himself. Elliot is a former member of one of funk's premiere ensembles, as well as a major jazz headliner.  All of that knowledge is assembled in silky smoothness that truly satisfies.

Title track "R n R" and radio-recognizable "Sweet Somethin'" are both what you'd expect, but greater expectations will not be wasted as you continue.  "Curve Ball" takes you back to the roots of this duo's notoriety - hot, funky, fusion.  Together the brass influences of Braun's trumpet and flugelhorn and the dashing rifts of Elliot's tenor sax cause Tower of Power goose bumps.  Fortunately they are equally soothed by the lovingly gentility of "The Stranger."

A touch of mellow strangely spices up "Da JR Funk" and the surprising "Que Paso," also adds unexpected flavors despite these two very recognizable ingredients.  As on any winding road, one must shift to stay on track, and the ups of "Better Times" and "Down And Dirty" play wonderfully against the smooth steady downbeat drive of "Two Heart Tango" and "Q It Up."

As is often the case with great artists, less is more.  Slowed selections like "Sunday Night" allow these talents to shine a bit brighter. Here the main course is their instruments rather than the melody. It is a delightful showcase of the gentle interplay of smooth ying and yang.  Much the same way, the perennially inspiring city of "Sao Paulo" aptly closes this smooth journey taking us into Brazilian landscapes of calm and contentment. 

Imagine pulling up to your villa in the hills. Your Ferrari is top down, the sun is shining, and you have cruised the beautiful mountains, and countryside all day long. You are as happy for enjoying your ride as you are for returning to your splendid home. Those you love greet you, and all is good with the world. That is the feeling created by R n R. It is a feeling more than worth catching.

By Arnold W. Stovell

 

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