Out now on the always excellent Shanachie label, ‘Around The Horn’ by smooth jazz trumpet supremo Rick Braun is the product of his many influences and his intent to take the listener on a journey around the world. In addition it proves to be something of a triumphant collaboration with singer, songwriter, pianist and producer John Stoddart with whom Braun co-writes five of the eleven choice tracks.
In fact ‘Around The Horn’ is quickly up and running with the Braun Stoddart written ‘So Strong’ that with a stunning Brazilian groove is tailor made for Braun’s distinctive playing style. The writing duo also comes up big with the sultry ‘Love Take Me’ that showcases the dazzling vocals of rising star Lindsey Webster before instigating a mood change with the decidedly bluesy ‘Everything Is Alright’ that is in the best traditions of Ramsey Lewis or, for that matter, Eddie Harris. The R & B flavored ‘I Love You More’ is jazzy in the most accessible of ways and enhanced by Stoddart’s totally on point backing vocals
Another catchy slice of smooth jazz comes in the form of ‘Pool Dancer’ where Braun shimmers on both trumpet and flugelhorn while elsewhere the silky ‘Vila Vita’, inspired by a visit Braun made to Portugal, benefits from delightful guitar interjections from the one and only Peter White and has all the attributes of a contemporary jazz classic in the making.
Drawing influence from some of the best pop music around, Braun finds space for three well crafted covers with the first being ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ that again features Peter White on nylon string guitar and which, in its time, was a huge hit for Charlie Puth and featured guest artist Selina Gomez. Later, Alicia Keys’ ‘In Common’ gets a smoky Rick Braun makeover while completing this tempting trio of cover versions Braun pays his own tribute to the mighty Coldplay with the bands first USA hit ‘Yellow’.
In Braun’s capable hands this melodic masterpiece never sounded better and although the title cut (co-written by Braun’s regular keyboard player Ron Reinhardt) is driven along on a brassy veneer that comes courtesy of Braun on trumpet, flugelhorn and valve trombone plus muted trumpet from Till Bronner, it is the wonderfully evocative ‘One South Beach Night’ that might just steal the entire show. With yet more great backing from Stoddart, exemplary trumpet from Braun and a vibe to die for this, much like the entire album, is a real gem.