By Britt Bickel

It’s been more than ten years in the making, but now one of the premier jazz supergroups is once again joining forces on a brand new record this summer.

BWB, made up of  trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and guitarist Norman Brown, is finishing up the last touches of a new tribute record of Michael Jackson hits done in a new, fresh way.

Earlier last month, Pat Prescott was invited by the three musicians to get an exclusive behind the scenes look at the making of the album during one of their last days of recording at Sunset Sounds Studios in Hollywood. We talked to BWB about what to expect on the new album and why they decided to get back together.

Many fans have been aching for BWB to get back in the studio for a new record after their debut album Groovin‘  was released in 2002, and BWB took notice.

“Every now and then, more often than not, somebody would come up and say ‘when are you guys going to do BWB again?'” said Rick. “So here we are…we’re back by popular demand. The fans demanded it.”

So what makes this trio so supreme? Kirk says it’s all about the chemistry between the three talents.

“The word is chemistry. That’s something that you can’t contrive,” said Kirk. “You can put three great musicians in a room, but you can’t make chemistry. When we first played together, there was chemistry.”

It’s not just the chemistry and mutual admiration the musicians have for each other, Norman explains that the natural vibe also helps get the creative juices flowing.

“As players, they’re really at the top of the list at what they do…I get inspiration from being around these cats,” he said.

Having recorded 14 songs during the studio session, BWB has had a hard time picking out what their favorites on the record are. Rick told Pat that one of his favorites is Kirk’s version of “Man On The Mirror.”

“[Kirk] came in with this really twisted, warped version. It goes to places that you wouldn’t even believe, but the song is still there,” said Rick.

Other songs BWB has record for the tribute album include “Shake Your Body Down To The Ground” and a bluesy version of “Who’s Loving You,” which Rick even used his special plunger tool to give it that deep southern sound.

Fans can expect the new BWB Michael Jackson tribute album out in early June, with a tour to support starting in April. You have plenty of chances to catch the trio in the SoCal area as part of JazzFest West, Newport Beach Jazz Festival,, Hyatt Summer Concert Series and the San Diego Jazz Fest.

To get a little taste of what the new BWB record will sound like, be sure to watch an unplugged version of the trio jamming on “Straight No Chaser” in the video above.


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