A superior blues and boogie-woogie pianist, Mr. B. (aka Mark Braun) has recorded several excellent sets that find him revitalizing the vintage style. He started playing piano when he was 15 and, although he had heard much of the pop and rock music of the era, when his father brought home a record by Jimmy Yancey, it convinced him of the musical path he should take. Braun was fortunate enough to visit Chicago on several occasions, seeing, talking to and drawing inspiration from Little Brother Montgomery, Blind John Davis and Sunnyland Slim. He also heard Boogie Woogie Red play at the Blind Pig club in Detroit every Monday night for 11 years. By the mid-'70s, Mr. B. was playing with regional bands and gaining a strong reputation.
Because he chose to stay in Ann Arbor, Mr. B. is not as well-known as he should be, but he has recorded excellent sets for Blind Pig: 1987's Shining the Pearls which features J.C. Heard and Marcus Belgrave and 1988's Partners in Time which also features Heard. In 1991 he released My Sunday Best for Ann Arbor label Schoolkids and followed it up with a big band record, Hallelujah Train in 1994. This record also came out on Schoolkids and features Ann Arbor's stalwart big band the Bird of Paradise Orchestra. Mr. B. can be found every year at the Ann Arbor Art Fair pounding out some boogie for the enthralled hordes of tourists or on the mound at Vet's Park pitching his amateur baseball team to another victory.~ Scott Yanow