Smooth-jazz trumpeter Rick Braun adds some new elements to his expressive sound on Esperanto (Warner Bros.). Reflecting the album title's worldwide language, Braun places his trumpet alongside a variety of universal grooves and rhythms.
"Green Tomatoes" is a boisterous jam that finds Braun, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and guitarist Norman Brown-the trumpeter's mates in the band BWB-reaching deep down for some raw funky grooves, and Braun teams with saxophonist Gerald Albright and keyboardist Gregg Karukas for "Stereo," a funky workout that's fueled by a hip-hop rhythm. On the Latin-inflected "The Villa di Costa," Braun's lyrical trumpet combines with a thumping groove and cinematic strings for a sound that's simultaneously edgy and lush. An animated electronic dance beat meets moody, lyrical trumpet on "Sir W," and a skittery dance groove propels Braun's melancholy melody on "Zona Rosa." On "Mother's Day," Braun and pianist Mitch Forman perform a tribute to their late mothers that closes Esperanto on a tender, beautiful note.