Summertime means gathering your friends and throwing on some feel-good music for some carefree fun. That pretty much sums up the sound and spirit of “Can You Feel It,” the first contemporary jazz album in five years from trumpet-flugelhorn star Rick Braun (www.RickBraun.com) that will be released July 8.
Turning to his 20-year-old breakthrough hit-filled album, “Beat Street,” for inspiration, Braun packed the new record full of horn section parts and rounded up the boys including Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Euge Groove, Jeff Lorber, Philippe Saisse and Elliott Yamin along with some of the finest backing musicians on the contemporary jazz scene. Braun produced his sixteenth album fostering a true live sound by removing all the sequencing except on one track. The result is an organic, buoyant and melodic romp led by Braun’s expressive trumpet and regal flugelhorn harmonies. He even dispenses salvos of valve trombone, which adds distinctive shades of soul. The taut rhythms and grooves on the ten original songs – nine of which were written or co-written by the horn man - are sculpted from blocks of funk, R&B and contemporary jazz while the collection’s lone vocal is a rollicking rendition of the soul classic “Take Me To The River.”
“Can You Feel It” is brimful of excitement and energy capturing the trademark Braun sound that his adoring fans across the world know and love. He opens the disc with the title cut that is crammed full of horn section parts with the lyrical trumpet lead riding the crest of a funky R&B groove. Culbertson guests on “Back To Back” featuring the keyboard sensation’s signature sound merged with the trumpet on the brisk energizer. A longtime Al Green fan, Braun invited soul singer Yamin and saxophonist Groove to jam on the jukebox joint “Take Me To The River.” Lingering memories of a romantic vacation with his wife inspired Braun to pen “Mallorca,” a sultry and exotic contemporary jazz tryst. The first radio single, “Get Up and Dance” is a lively frolic with Koz during which the trumpet and sax engage in a playful discourse that bodes to become the 2014 summer anthem. Saisse wrote the stunning “Another Kind Of Blue,” a gorgeous yet somber reflection with a sweeping silver lining chorus. Braun’s evocative flugelhorn conveys layers of emotional depth on the R&B ballad. Braun and keyboard pioneer Lorber join forces on “Delta,” a punchy R&B-funk-jazz hybrid. Tension builds on the gentle “Silk,” one of Braun’s earliest ideas when he started composing material for the set. Speeding from the start, “Radar” is another Braun and Lorber co-write with trumpet blazing the way. The rhythm section carves a nice pocket for Braun’s trumpet lead on “The Dream” that he accentuates with flugelhorn flourishes. The boisterous album closer, “Dr. Funkenstein,” attacks instantly with a monster funk prescription powered by fiery horns, rousing Hammond B3 organ blasts and old school R&B guitar licks. A charismatic entertainer popular on the concert stage, Braun will support the new album with U.S. tour dates through the end of the year.