Occasionally delving into something familiar and getting exactly what one expects can be safe and reassuring. One does not want to be surprised all the time, because adventure has its placeand so does a cozy everyday routine.
This release by Randy Brecker, which is pleasant but lacks any surprises, feels exactly like going to your neighborhood haunt. The music was recorded live on November 11, 2003 at the Leverkusener Jazztage at the Forum and it features, in addition to the leader, Michael Brecker, a few other guests and the WDR Big Band Koln.
The music consists of original compositions by either the leader or Michael Brecker that are essentially mainstream bop with hints of '70s fusion, and on the third and the last tracks a dash of Latin. The musicians involved are uniformly excellent and their mastery, rather than the material itself, is what makes this recording a very enjoyable listen. The improvised solos soar above the lush and buoyant orchestral work of the big band, driven by the propulsive drumming of Peter Esrkine.
Randy Brecker's trumpet sounds a bit like Miles Davis in his later years, with an occasional Maynard Ferguson-style high note. Despite these similarities to trumpet legends, he never loses his uniqueness of style and he maintains an easily identifiable sound. The other soloists shine as well, particularly Jim Beard on the keyboards.
Some Skunk Funk may not be very memorable or groundbreaking, and adventurous ears may not enjoy it, but overall the disc is a well-rounded set of masterfully executed and beautiful, albeit familiar music.
Personnel: Randy Brecker: trumpet; Michael Brecker: tenor sax; Jim Beard: piano and synthesizer; Will Lee: electric bass;
Peter Erskine: drums; Marcio Doctor: percussion; WDR Big Band: big band; Vince Mendoza: conductor.