It’s August. And it’s the first Spirit Cruise in August, which means that my beloved series is in its second half.
And tonight, I arrived later than usual to the pier, where the line wrapped around the damn corner. Holy crap, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people in front of me, and how I got a front-row seat can only be guessed. I must be, I swear to you, the luckiest music lover in this city, and considering that the ships have been sold out more than once, that’s saying something.
Now, about the two gents I saw today…
Richard Elliot. A Scotsman raised in LA, who carries a zebra-striped tenor sax (google photos if you don’t believe me), and a staple in CD 101.9. The first song I heard from him was when I was sixteen, already a steady listener of CD 101.9 and it was a love song (oh be quiet). The love song was atypically named, I’m Not In Love. And for a statement like that, it touched on the Atrophied Inner Romantic anyway.
Moreover, Richard is a Tower of Power and Bobby Caldwell expatriate and when I saw him before at Berks… man, did he bring that house down. ToP was out in full-force at the Scottish Rite.
Rick Braun, on the other hand? I’ve gotten into his music not too long ago – two or three years back, in fact, when I caught whiff of Beat Street. And I really got to like him when I heard his cover of What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life? – no matter who else covers it, a clean trumpet note is always going to reach at me and tug at that little string in the back of my mind that says “relax.” That is Rick Braun as I see him.
So, one fine day, those two got together for a CD called RnR, which came out with a heaping helping of awesome, and so much awesome was there that the duo took their act on the road…and landed on the ship!
I have to hand it to them for the funk. As soon as they both got out there, they blasted aboard, with Richard leading the way on the semi-infamous zebra horn. Rick accented and complemented on the trumpet, with the two of them both chorusing and conversing as they went. Dwight Sills’s accents on the electric were perfect, and the crowd was well-warmed up.
Tijuana Dance and Rick on the flugelhorn…what can I say? I have a lot of love for the trumpet as an instrument; it is a classic signature of jazz music if composed for properly. Rick’s composition on All It Takes is excellent and this track in particular is excellently suited for the flugelhorn as a whole. A little trippy Latino rhythm, the classic, strong sound that is the flugelhorn – you have a winning combination.
Rick told us then a story about his mother, who often made him practice the horn on summer holiday, rather than letting him linger by the pool. Like most mothers, Mrs. Braun would admonish him with “You’re gonna thank me someday!” He did…and we, as listeners, certainly did. But Rick did it in his own way, and showcased his singing voice.
This was a surprise to me. While I heard this song, My Funny Valentine, before at Berks, I have to admit that this is the time that I actually heard Rick sing. In speaking, his voice is very mellow, and in the beginning of the song he tends to overdo with the vibrato a little, but when he really sings – like, lets it go and belts it – he has a highly enjoyable tenor range. Maybe it’s the acoustics, or the smaller audience, or just really me zoning into it, but it sounded tons better this time around.
While Richard segued into When A Man Loves a Woman, I took a little venture and snapped some photos of the area. And I know, I keep promising you guys photos! If I can get my SD adapter out of wherever the F it went, I’ll be a happy schmuck.
Nonetheless, it was right back to the stage after Richard wrapped it, and right into Rick’s Green Tomatoes. Easily one of my favorites, and the funk was brought back a la stereo. The dance floor was rocking…or actually, wait, that was the boat turbulence. Whoopsie. I guess that’s what “rocking the boat” happens to be!
In all, it was a fantastic night, and it was great to see the gents of RnR again.
Next up: Peter White! Kirk Whalum! Jeff Golub! Gerald Albright! …and me being one very, very happy girl. I’ve seen the Guitars section play before and loved it much; Gerald Albright is the one person I would have gone stone-ass-broke to see at any cost, and Kirk is…well, Kirk. :) Into My Soul is a lovely album, and it’s so Southern Gentleman-sounding, that I have to wonder what he would sound like in live show.
I’m about to find out…in one week.
And also, just as a highlight, my favorite from Rick’s music, and one of my favorite ways to hear a trumpet: mellifluous and muted: