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Randy Brecker with the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Dearborn Station

Edward Blanco By

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The renowned DePaul University Jazz Ensemble continues a tradition begun more than twenty years ago by performing and recording at the oldest historic jazz club in Chicago, the Jazz Showcase located in the historic 'Printer's Row' district of the Dearborn Station area. The Dearborn Station live recording also maintains another on-going tradition and that is documenting sensational sessions of big band music with an icon of jazz this time, with the phenomenal trumpeter Randy Brecker. Musical Director and renowned trumpeter Bob Lark and his university ensemble have in the past recorded with such greats as Phil Woods, Jeff Hamilton, Jim McNeely and Clark Terry among others. Now, it's Brecker's turn to lead this marvelous band and does so in rousing style taking the legendary Jazz Showcase by storm blowing the house down on a couple of his originals and four well-known standards.

Brecker's hot trumpet begins the session on an eight-minute blistering Andrew Janak arrangement of "Squids," the first of Brecker's two compositions that brings a forceful brass and reed sections to the fore and compliment power performances from the trumpeter and saxophonist Janak. Thelonious Monk's standard "Well, You Needn't" is another hard-driving piece this time featuring strong solos from alto saxophonist Brent Griffin, trombonist Brian Scarborough and more high-pitched solos from Brecker. There is a terrific fresh new arrangement from tenor saxophonist Corbin Andrick that makes the age old standard "On Green Dolphin Street" sound almost like new.

The other original contribution from the guest trumpeter is "You're In My Heart" featuring beautiful moments from saxophonist J.T. Teichert and Brecker in one of the more tasteful classy tunes of the album. Wayne Shorter's signature and sublime "Infant Eyes" occupies one of the warm spots of the project where Brecker displays his reach and the softer side of his playing as well as featuring a solid reed section on a truly inspiring rendition of the classic. The power and muscle of the ensemble and Brecker's hot trumpet are best evident on the sizzling version of time-honored standard "It's You or No One" where the swing is so pronounced and fitting for Brecker's last appearance of the set.

The Thomas Matta arrangement of the original Lark composition "Cathy's Song," a favorite of the band leader and one which was previously documented on one of the Phil Woods recordings with the band, is the perfect vehicle in showcasing the ensemble's tender side highlighted by Bobby Lark's (Bob Lark's son) soft flugelhorn voice and Lee Rothenberg's sweet guitar.

The big band sounds wind down on Richie Palys' "Tina's Glass Nickel" and Frank Foster's familiar "Blues in Hoss' Flat" completing another incredibly powerful and rich-sounding large orchestration album sending a message that big band music is alive and well. Dearborn Station not only provides a platform for the great Randy Brecker clearly, one of the all-time masters of the horn, but also reaffirms the notion that the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, continues to be one of the premier college bands in the country, professional in every way.

Track Listing: Squids; Well, You Needn’t; On Green Dolphin Street; You’re in My Heart; Infant Eyes; It’s You or No One; Cathy’s Song; Tina’s Glass Nickel; Blues in Hoss’ Flat.

Personnel: Bob Lark: director, trumpet solo (6); Marques Carroll: trumpet, flugelhorn; Kyle Granville: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bobby Lark: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gibron Lockhart: trumpet, flugelhorn; Brent Griffin: alto, soprano sax, flute; J. T. Teichert: alto sax, flute; Corbin Andrick: tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Andrew Janak: tenor sax, clarinet; Michael Brawley: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Brian Scarborough: trombone; Chris Shuttleworth: trombone; Brett Balika: trombone; Bryan Tipps: bass trombone; Scott Williams: piano, keyboard; Lee Rothenberg: guitar; Jackson Kidder: bass; Rob Dicke: drums. Special guest artist – Randy Brecker: trumpet (1-6).

Title: Dearborn Station | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Jazzed Media

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