Review – “Crossroads” by Rick Braun

Veteran musician Rick Braun is back for 2019. He has a new album called Crossroads, and it is his 18th studio recording.

Review - "Crossroads" by Rick BraunHe is not slowing down by any stretch of the imagination.

That distinctive trumpet is on full display here, and he also brought along a few of his friends for the ride. Check out these names:

Richard Elliot

Peter White

Chris ‘Big Dog’ Davis

Philippe Saisse

Eric Valentine

Greg Phillinganes

Yeah, that is what I thought!

By the way, in addition to the trumpet, Braun also plays the flugelhorn and the valve trombone. Hey, I am a fan of the horn in general, so I am definitely a fan of Mr. Braun!

We have ten tracks, with eight originals and two remakes. There is a re-imagine of a classic old-school song – Stevie Wonder‘s I Wish, and one current track, Versace On The Floor from Bruno Mars.

You got all that? Well, let’s get into it!

The album leads off with Around the Corner. This is an uptempo track and Braun’s horn is just smoothed-out cool, and the backing band sounds like a well-oiled machine. The keyboard hits really compliment Braun’s lead, and the percussion gives the song an extra punch.

Brazz Street is up next. Man, that bass is leading this groove, and Braun’s horn is really in sync with the bassline. If you listen closely, you will hear all of the small fill-in parts, such as the piano, those strings and the funky guitar. Braun does a nice ad-lib towards the end of the song that will make you just shake your head.

Next is the title track, Crossroads. Philippe Saisse is the featured keyboard player, and this track is almost like a Big Band track without the Big Band. I know that sounds odd, but you will now what I am referring to when you take a listen. It is a really groovy tune.

I think it is time for a slow jam. In The Moment I Saw You, the band breaks it all the way down. I think we need an alternate vision here, with Howard Hewett on lead vocals. I know you can totally hear that.

In the meantime, there is a nasty bridge that starts at 3:10. You have to love that part. All around, this may be the best track on the album.

The first of the two remakes is next. This version of I Wish is the epitome of cool. Richard Elliot and Greg Phillinganes are featured, and for a minute there, I almost forgot that this is actually a remake. You can totally hear that stand-up bass, and the horn play here between Braun and Elliot is just over the top. If you don’t love love this, then there’s actually no hope for you!

In Me and You, the guitar parts will immediately grab you. Peter White is on the nylon string guitar, and Tony Pulizzi is on the electric guitar. Braun plays a whimsical horn on the track, and this would be a part of the soundtrack that would play as you are lounging in the backyard, sipping on a tall glass of lemonade.

Family is an interesting track. The groove is more on the uptempo side, but Braun’s tempo is really slow by comparison. This gives the track a nice contrast, as you can kind of choose how you want to groove to it. With a title like Family, I can totally picture this as the backing music for a family reunion scene in a movie.

You can see that too, right? I KNOW I’m not crazy!

Do you want a little Island flare? Bahia will satisfy that urge. The keys are on point, and we have the flute as that extra sweetener. This track will definitely grab a hold and make you move in your seat.

Come With Me is such an infectious song. It is a mid-tempo track and the hook is simple, but one that the listener will immediately enjoy once they hear it. It also has a nice late 80’s feel to it.

The set concludes with Versace On The Floor, a track by Bruno Mars. I have to say that Braun has a knack for choosing current songs to cover. We also heard it on the previous album (Around The Horn) with We Don’t Talk Anymore. Braun handles his horn like a seasoned vocalist, and it shows here. I really like the original, but this is a version that I can really roll with.

Rick Braun is in rare form with his performances on Crossroads, and his songs seem to get better with time, if that is even possible. You will like every track, as there are no filler songs.

Take a listen and I am sure that you will add most, if not all of these tracks to your playlist.

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