Education and career
In a 1996 article, Braun mentioned his family was very musical with his mother being a self-taught pianist and banjo player and, while he also played drums in high school, he started playing the trumpet after his older brother started playing it. He had also thought of being a doctor or a musician but chose musician because he didn't excel at math and credits his high school music teacher with preparing him. In the 1970s, Braun attended the Eastman School of Music, and while a student there became a member of a jazz-fusion band, Auracle which included pianist John Serry. With that band, they won a competition and worked with Miles Davis producer Teo Macero for two albums. Before embarking on a solo career, Braun got his start by playing in several bands, working as a session musician, touring and recording with War, Sade, Glenn Frey, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole, Tom Petty, Crowded House and Rod Stewart.
In 1981, he also released an album as a vocalist in Japan for Teichiku Records and worked as a songwriter for Lorimar (now Warner/Chappell Music). As a songwriter, he worked on REO Speedwagon's song "Here With Me" and also TV and film work such as Midnight Caller and Tuff Turf. Some of the artists with whom he recorded include guitarist Jeff Golub's Avenue Blue, whom he met while touring with Rod Stewart. As a musician, Braun has also faced several struggles including alcoholism from touring so much in the 1980s and had a dark tone in his albums into the 1990s. His first major album was 1995's Beat Street which received so much attention that his manager called him and Braun chose to pursue his solo career. He also collaborated with saxophonist Boney James on a remake of the Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in the Grass".
Braun also performs in the band BWB, with saxophonist Kirk Whalum and guitarist Norman Brown. In 2005, he and saxophonist Richard Elliot co-founded ARTizen Music Group (now known as Artistry Music) and once had Rykodisc as a distributor. One of his influences was Freddie Hubbard, and Braun composed a song, "Freddie Was Here" in 2008, which he recorded on his album, All it Takes, in tribute to Hubbard, who died that year. He has also cited influence by Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Chet Baker, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie and Herb Alpert, with the last one inspiring his album All It Takes including a song called "Tijuana Dance" (a play on Alpert's band Tijuana Brass). Allmusic's Scott Yanow listed him as "one of the first trumpeters to become in instrumental pop music" in the 1990s following Chuck Mangione in the 1980s and before Chris Botti started in the mid-1990s. He also achieved several top chartings including Kisses in the Rain (as high as number 1), R n R (as high as number 1), All It Takes (as high as number 2), and Can You Feel It (as high as number 1) along with charting at the Traditional Jazz Albums for the first time in 2011 with Sings with Strings (as high as number 9). Braun also won Gavin Report's Artist of the Year twice.
|"Christmas Present: Music of Warmth & Celebration"||1994||Atlantic/Wea|
|"Body and Soul"||1997||Mesa/Bluemoon|
|"Best of Rick Braun"||1999||Atlantic|
|"Shake It Up"||2000||Warner Bros.|
|"Kisses in the Rain"||2001||Warner Bros.|
|"Sessions: Volume 1"||2004→2006||Artizen|
|"R n R" (with Richard Elliot)||2007||Artizen|
|"Peter White Christmas with Mindi Abair and Rick Braun" (Peter White / Mindi Abair / Rick Braun)||2007||Artizen|
|"All It Takes"||2009||Artistry Music|
|"Rick Braun sings with strings"||2011||Artistry Music|
|"Can You Feel It"||2014||Artistry Music|
|"Groovin'"||2002||Warner Bros. Records|
|"Human Nature'"||2013||Heads Up International|
- New Age Music & New Sounds Vol. 67 – "Liberty"
- Here With Me (with Kevin Cronin)