Rick Braun plans a different kind of R n R with Richard Elliot on Thornton stage

Published on April 4th, 2021

By Jim Dail

Take one trumpet player and one sax player, put them on the same stage at the same time and what do you have? In this case, you get R n R with Rick Braun and Richard.

The longtime, and long successful, horn players bring their show to Thornton Winery on Saturday as part of the 2008 Champagne Jazz Series.

“We’ve been pals a long time, admiring each other’s work,” said Braun. “It’s not a competition or anything, just the ability to get on stage and play.”

Braun has been an admirer of Elliot’s for some time, going back to Braun’s days with War and Elliot’s with Tower of Power, long before either embarked on solo jazz careers. Now, the two own ARTizen Music Group together.

“We’ve done a lot of gigs together and we are business partners so it was a natural progression to get together for an album and tour,” he said. “When we did the album it was just a spontaneous thing that we were able to put together.”

Between them, Braun and Elliot have 24 solo albums and numerous hits.

“It’s great being on stage and I just want to play,” he said. “I’m happy doing other people’s material as long as we can put on a good show.”

For Braun, it all started with a trumpet inside a closet at home.

 “My brother was a trumpet player and when I was a kid I would goof around with the trumpet in the closet and I figured out how to play it,” Braun said. “And that was that.”

He credits much of his love of the instrument to his mother.

“My mom played a lot of albums by Herb Alpert, Al Hirt, Clyde McCoy, just great players,” he said. “The trumpet is a beautiful sounding instrument and it moved me.”

Even as a child, he had a musical ear.

“I was an ear player, being able to learn things from hearing them,” he said. “I got that from my mom.”

It was in the pop world that Braun saw his first major success, writing “Here With Me,” which was a Top 20  hit for REO Speedwagon in 1988. In 1993, he released his first solo album and has been a mainstay in jazz circles ever since.

“Over the years I’ve become more comfortable putting on a show,” he said. “I’ve always loved being on stage whether as a sideman for Rod Stewart and Sade or on my own.”

He credits much of his stage presence to being able to learn from others.

“Being able to watch how someone like Rod Stewart did his show allowed me to take the elements I liked and incorporate a lot of that into the show,” he said. “The show is about injecting your personality into the crowd and I’m kind of a ham.”

Once again, it goes back to the old players who influenced him.

“All those old greats knew how to work the crowd and the act became as big as the music,” he said. “Miles Davis had a complete shtick, but personality gets you so far. The music still has to be good or you won’t last.”

For Braun it’s about selection.

“First and foremost, I want to be playing good stuff, whether it’s mine or someone else’s music,” he said. “I want to play everything I can think of and that’s my first priority.”

For Braun, there’s also a new area – producing.

 “Producing is a natural progression but only if you have an affinity to do it,” he said. “There’s an editorial side that a lot of people don’t realize. You have to know when something is finished without being a pain the butt.”

That’s not to say he doing producing for his own albums.

“It’s really hard to edit yourself because you get emotionally attached to your work,” Braun said. “It’s hard to say that the song’s is not any good or not done if in your mind it’s great.”

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