Jazz Trumpeter Rick Braun on Covering 'We Don't Talk Anymore': 'It Was My Daughter's Favorite Song'
His instrumental interpretation of Charlie Puth & Selena Gomez's Hot 100 top 10 has become a hit on the Smooth Jazz Songs chart.
Esteemed smooth jazz trumpet player Rick Braun, teamed with fellow format veteran guitarist Peter White in a featured role, recently enjoyed four weeks at their No. 3 peak on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Songs chart with his instrumental take on Charlie Puth's Selena Gomez-featured song "We Don’t Talk Anymore," a No. 9 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 back in October. (The remake ranks at No. 7 on the current May 13-dated Smooth Jazz Songs chart, marking its eighth week in the top 10.)
(Fun fact: Braun, 61, has long made an impact in pop music, as he co-wrote REO Speedwagon's 1988 No. 20 Hot 100 hit "Here With Me" with the band's lead singer, Kevin Cronin.)
Braun -- who's already planning a star-studded New Year's Eve bash to ring in 2018 -- talked to Billboard about his history of success in the smooth jazz format, as well as his inspiration for covering "Talk," from Around the Horn, his first album on the Shanachie label. The set debuted and peaked at No. 3 on Jazz Albums in March, becoming his 12th top 10 on the tally.
Billboard: Since our Smooth Jazz Songs chart began in 2005, you’ve scored eight No. 1s (the third-best total) among 16 top 10s (second-best). And, your 25 overall chart hits are tied with Boney James' total for the most of any act. To what do you attribute your success?
Braun: I feel incredibly grateful to be where I am and to have had as many hits as I have had. I have always tried to keep what I am doing fresh and have made an effort over the years not to make the same record. I have not been afraid to take a risk and I still love what I do and I am still trying to improve my game.
Why did you decide to cover "We Don’t Talk Anymore"?
I have teenage kids and both of them listen to music constantly. I had just finished producing [my prior album] Can You Feel It, [side project] BWB and Richard Elliot's Summer Madness, and I was looking for inspiration for my new project. I was driving my daughter to high school and she was listening to her music. "We Don't Talk Anymore" came on the radio. I loved the song and asked her about it. She said it was her favorite song.
How did the arrangement of the song come about?
My arrangement of "We Don’t Talk Anymore" was a journey in learning about contemporary pop music. It seems all the vocalists are putting the melodies way on top of the time. I always phrase behind [the time]. It was exciting for me to explore phrasing on top. I tried to stay close to the original version, but added my own touch. Of course, having Peter playing on it brought the whole track to a wonderful place.
Yes, what was it like working with Peter White? How did the collaboration of smooth jazz titans come about?
Working with Peter is always a joy. He is one of my dearest, oldest friends! We have traveled thousands of miles together and done hundreds of shows. He and I have appeared on each other's CDs many, many times. His friendship is a blessing.
With whom else might you like to collaborate?
Early in my career, in 1975, George Benson offered wisdom that changed the way I looked at music. He opened my eyes to the value of showing how much joy music brings on stage. I have carried his words with me since then. It would be great to work with George.
"We Don't Talk Anymore" actually isn't the only pop cover on Around the Horn.
What other pop songs have you eyed covering?
I will have to consult with my musical advisors/teenage children and see what they are listening to.