Complexity sets the tone on "The Raid," the debut CD of the Stephan Braun Trio. Latin rhythms, 70s grooves and urban cool jazz encase smooth vocals and are topped off by the band leader's cello on a techno trip. Stephan Braun defines a broad style terrain with nine of his own compositions. The force behind the wealth of his inventive playing techniques easily puts the cello on par with jazz's more traditional lead instruments. All three members of the young Stephan Braun Trio can boast of having completed their studies at a German college of music. However, this is just one aspect of their respective professional histories. Drummer Bodek Janke, born in 1979 in Warsaw, is strongly influenced by his Polish-Kazakh-Russian roots. His learning to play the Indian tabla percussion instrument, work with internationally acclaimed jazz greats and current residence in New York are all factors that contribute to this picture of a shimmering, versatile musical personage. Also a Poland native is pianist Matthäus Winnitzki whose heart belongs to Afro-Cuban music. With Hamburg as his adoptive home, it is no wonder that this founder of several bands and owner of his own label (brennt rekords) can mostly be heard in Latin Jazz ensembles. In the middle of his classical studies, Stephan Braun ultimately decided to pursue training in jazz whereby his concentration on groove techniques on the cello earned him not only his degree, but also several distinctions setting him apart from the rest. He has been awarded at national and international competitions and has up till now made a name for himself with the group deep strings (winner of the Berlin "Jazz and Blues Award" 2004) and by playing with the NDR Big Band, Annamateur and the Kristjan Randalu Quartet. "The Raid" is a declaration of sophisticated jazz composition far removed from the ingrained "themeimprovisation- theme" formula. Stephan Braun's creations are the products of his love for and exhaustive knowledge of composers from the expressionist and classical modern eras: Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók served as the godfathers of many an intricate groove. On the other hand, the cellist invokes role models such as the violinist Didier Lockwood and the pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba while tipping his hat at the invaluable qualities of jazz-ally, pop superstar Sting. The successful feat of conclusively distilling this immense spectrum into a single CD concept is largely attributed to it's guest artists. Gerard Presencer, London wunderkind turned seasoned jazz professor and star guest on "The Raid", contributes soulfully flawless trumpet and flugelhorn tones. Anne-Christin Schwarz, Braun's congenial partner in the deep strings ensemble, brings the vocal tracks into irresistible chanson twilight with her smooth timbre. The CD begins packed with energy with the title track "The Raid". "Incity" follows with more intimate sounds coolly colored by Matthäus Winnitzki's sleek musical stylings on the Rhodes. Then there is a change of scenery: "En Passant" is a ballad characterized by vocal and flugelhorn soli a la Norah Jones meets Sting in which Stephan Braun proves to be a competent "guitarist" on his cello. It's back to just the trio members in "3onysos". This sober, intellectually lifting piece harbours orgiastic soli by Bodek Janke und Matthäus Winnitzki. In "Memento" Stephan Braun's playing revolves around themes from Beethoven's last cello sonata, to which his colleagues contribute Latin accents that grow into a veritable samba number in the following track "Floating". Here Braun trades in his cello for his homemade "cello-bass"; an electrified hybrid with e-bass strings and a contrabass fingerboard shortened to fit a cello scale. In a funky homage to Berlin one hears the "S1" train line speeding through the kaleidoscopic metropolis. It is followed by the contemplative, dreamlike "No Tomorrow" and finally "Exodos", a short, solid kicker like a wild ride on a techno beat. What did bass legend Ray Brown say about the cello? "It allows you to create elaborately and fast." Without a doubt, "The Raid" takes this truth to the next level.