If Allentown, Pennsylvania native Rick Braun had his way, he would be a drummer today. Rick traces his critical decision to the third grade at Allentown's now-demolished Stevens Elementary School. "With a big family and a small house, drums weren't exactly smiled upon." The trumpet, his eventual instrument of choice, was a "little less painful" for other family members than his other choice - the violin. Today, no one is complaining. The first of Rick's big "breaks" in the business came in the area of songwriting and being a background musician/vocalist. One of the tunes he wrote for REO Speedwagon, "Here With Me," hit the Billboard Top 20. Rick's move to contemporary jazz came about by accident. He traveled to Toronto to shop several demo tapes. One music publisher who listened to Rick's instrumentals suggested that he contact Mesa/Bluemoon, whose main offices, ironically, were about two miles from Rick's Studio City home. Rick's 1995 album Beat Street, led the pack again. Beat Street topped the contemporary jazz charts for a record-breaking 13 weeks, eventually becoming the No. 1 smooth jazz record of the year, garnering Braun Gavin's Artist of the Year and Album of the Year in 1996. His next release, Full Stride, topped the charts for 20 weeks, and his numerous collaborations with artists Richard Elliot, Brian Bromberg, Chris Standring, Jeff Golub, Peter White and 3rd Force have led to multiple No. 1 records. As a producer, he has delivered No. 1 hits for keyboardist David Benoit, guitarist Marc Antoine, Avenue Blue and saxophonist Bryan Savage, and was honored in February of 2000, as "Best Producer" and "Best Brass Player" at the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards. Rick has worked as a sideman, touring with such rock and pop stars as Rickie Lee Jones, Sade, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Glenn Frey, Natalie Cole, Tom Petty, Crowded House, Phoebe Snow and of course, War. In addition to recording and touring as a solo artist, Rick has virtually become an in-house producer for record label Mesa/Bluemoon. In the past few years, he's held the creative reins on several critically acclaimed projects, including two albums for acoustic guitarist Peppino D'Agostino, two for guitar and violin duo Willie and Lobo, and a radio chart-topping contemporary jazz album by Avenue Blue.