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Jazzy and sentimental

Christmas Present
Christmas Present
By Rick Braun

Mesa / Atlantic Records: 1994


This review first appeared in the November 29, 1994 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Pop-jazz trumpeter Rick Braun has recorded a collection of classic and original Christmas songs that combines traditional Christmas, jazz and new age approaches.

"The Little Drummer Boy" is played straight, for instance, with Braun's muted trumpet capturing a classic Christmas spirit. The same traditional approach works on "The Christmas Song." "Jingle Bells," "O Tannenbaum" and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" are done more in a jazz vein, with some tasteful improvisation and composing by pianist/co-arranger Curtis Brengle.

However, on the original songs the album sometimes slips into a formulaic Muzak sound that relegates it to background music. Braun tries too hard for a medieval sound on "The Christmas Clock," and "Newborn Christmas" could have been titled "New Age Christmas."

At heart, though, Braun is a romantic, which lends his playing a sentimentality that gives this collection a real warmth that overcomes its shortcomings.