Rick Braun continues to satisfy his global audience with Kisses in the Rain, his first solo CD since the 1998 chart-topper Full Stride. Braun penned his own musical tastes on seven songs, and also covers Bill Withers' "Use Me," Leon Russell's "Song for You," and Johnny Britt's original "Grover's Groove." Braun get high marks for his excellent collaborations with smooth jazz guitarists Norman Brown, Peter White, and Tony Maiden on "Car Wash," "Kisses in the Rain," and "Grover's Groove," while arrangements that feature Harvey Mason, Luis Conte, Li'l John Roberts, and Paulinho da Costa on drums and percussion keep the funk and groove masters at a solid pace on the beautiful ballad "Emma's Song," "Simplicity," and "Use Me." On "For You," guest vocals from Shai add a soulful layer to this great love song.
Braun plays flügelhorn, trumpet, keyboards, and acoustic piano and provides programming on this great program; his playing sheds new light on the importance of brass players up front on the smooth jazz scene, a musical landscape previously dominated by guitarists and saxophonists. On "Middle of the Night," he is able to play and describe what he hears in sweet, subtle, powerful, and emotional registers that offer the listener many reasons to stay tuned. Rick Braun tops his previous solo effort with a remarkable update on the smooth jazz scene that is balanced, focused, and a worthy addition to the collections of serious smooth jazz aficionados and Rick Braun fans around the world.