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Michael Brecker: He Can Groove Any Way You Want

By Published: January 18, 2007

AAJ: No, it was at San Antonio.

MB: Oh my God! I do remember—that was actually a wacky gig.

AAJ: What was happening there?

MB: I forget. I actually don't remember. There were probably a lot of things...we did do a couple of gigs without Jeff...oh, that's why you asked if Jeff had replaced Adam. Oh, no, Adam was actually subbing for Jeff. Jeff couldn't make a couple gigs. And I don't think we had percussion on that gig. A lot of ways we approach the music onstage... I try to keep it really open. It's more fun that way.

AAJ: I guess I've always wanted to ask about certain recordings you've done, could you comment on the Word of Mouth and Gaucho sessions?

MB: They're all really memorable [laughs]. Gaucho and of course, Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth album is one of my favorite records. It's an album that really hangs together... the writing. I was pretty close to Jaco at that date. I watched. We would hang quite a bit. [There was] a problem with the record company... and then he also couldn't write the names of the musicians on the original Word of Mouth record. I don't know if you remember that, the original record had no musicians listed. So, he was with two record companies at once. Somehow! [laughs] And I don't know how he pulled that off! [laughs].

AAJ: Sounds like Jaco to me.

MB: Yeah, it was kinda classic Jaco. I think he was with Columbia and Warner Brothers at the same time. Some kind of thing, but the record was done over a short period of time, he was very excited about it. Actually, we all were.

[Regarding 7th Avenue South—the performance club Mike had co-owned with brother Randy—there was a gig arranged there by Jaco, but due to these contractual problems he couldn't advertize it, but people found out anyway and packed the place and the working band became known as Word of Mouth]

AAJ: Then there was a tour...

MB: There was no tour that I was...I actually kind of stayed [in New York].

AAJ: How about the 80/81 sessions?

MB: Pat [Metheny] and I knew each other from Joni Mitchell and got to know each other real well. That was really how I got to know Jaco really well. It was the first time I had played with Dewey Redman and was also the first time I had played with Jack [DeJohnette] and Charlie [Haden]. And the rhythm section just played... and just something clicked, something changed, something shifted, I was never the same after that. And the time changes... well, I had just never played with a rhythm section like that... that open.

AAJ: Do you think all that came out of the Ornette [Coleman] thing?

MB: Definitely. We were all into Ornette's music.

AAJ: Have you heard John Medeski's trio?

MB: I have.

AAJ: Can you see yourself making use of the organ trio sound on your own stuff?

MB: Absolutely. I like a lot of it.

AAJ: Like that [John] Scofield record A Go Go [with Medeski, Martin and Wood].

MB: Yeah, great record.

And, as the new disc shows, he did. It's a true guitar/organ trio in the spirit of those in the day with Jack McDuff and Benson, Jimmy Smith and Wes or Kenny Burrell or Don Patterson and Pat Martino, and then made a quartet with tenor out front. The difference is heard in contemporary writing that keeps the tradition, Pat Metheny's modern touch—and as Michael Brecker also contributes two tunes—and the redefinition of three drum legends; the stage is set. Keyboardist George Whitty produces and adds an original of his own.

Regarding the new disc Brecker offers: "Great time is one of the most essential elements in jazz. It was a privilege to record this CD with three masters of time—Elvin Jones, Jeff "Tain" Watts and Bill Stewart. Add greats Pat Metheny and Larry Goldings—with their highly developed sense of rhythm and musicality—and the result was a music lesson for me and an amazing experience that I will never forget."

Selected Discography

Michael Brecker, Time is of the Essence (Verve, 1999)
Vince Mendoza, Epiphany (Zebra, 1999)
Michael Brecker, Two Blocks from the Edge (Impulse!, 1997)
James Taylor, Hourglass (Columbia, 1997)
Mike Stern, Give and Take (Atlantic, 1997)
Michael Brecker, Tales from the Hudson (Impulse!, 1996)
Tony Williams, Wilderness (Ark 21, 1996)
Herbie Hancock, The New Standard (Verve, 1995)
The Brecker Brothers, Out of the Loop (GRP, 1994)
The Brecker Brothers, Return of the Brecker Brothers (GRP, 1992)
Michael Brecker, Now You See It, Now You Don't (GRP, 1990)
Michael Brecker, Don't Try This at Home (Impulse!, 1988)
Gary Burton, Times Like These (GRP, 1988)
Michael Brecker, Michael Brecker (Impulse!, 1986)
Kenny Wheeler, Double, Double You (ECM, 1983)
Joni Mitchell, Shadows and Light (Asylum, 1980)
The Brecker Brothers, Straphangin' (Arista, 1980)
Steps Ahead, Smokin' in the Pit (NYC, 1980)
Pat Metheny, 80/81> (ECM, 1980)
Frank Zappa, Zappa in New York (Rykodisc, 1978)
The Brecker Brothers, Heavy Metal Be-bop (Arista, 1978)
The Brecker Brothers, Brecker Bros. (Arista, 1975)
Billy Cobham, Crosswinds (Atlantic, 1974)
Dreams, Dreams (Columbia, 1970)

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