Kisses in the Rain
After creating a franchise sound over the past few years with his moody cityscapes, Rick Braun mixes things up a bit for his new-label debut, Kisses in the Rain. The trumpeter here surrounds himself with a stalwart supporting cast, including fellow brass man Jerry Hey, bassist Nathan East and guitarist Peter White. The results take a welcome detour from Braun's tried-and-true path. From the glistening dance music of "One for the Girls," with its almost techno-styled rhythmic relentlessness, to the funky, lumbering read of "Use Me," which gives Braun space for snaky soloing, the album experiments with colors and styles. Other highlights include the earthy groover "Car Wash 2000," which finds Braun nimbly hopping on the flugelhorn, and "Grover's Groove," a shiny, '70s-recalling funky strut in the mold of "When Georgie Comes Home." While there are some minor dips between these spirited pieces (the melodramatic "Middle of the Night," for example), Braun also injects enough of his trademark style (on pieces like the spacey, melodic title track) to keep the old fans with him.