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Randy Brecker: Into The Sun

Douglas Payne By

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Where Michael Brecker has crafted his own sound (and cultivated significant influence), brother Randy has established his own style. It’s a style not terribly dissimilar to the old Brecker Brothers sound of the seventies. On both trumpet and flugelhorn, Randy is agreeable and maybe even accomplished at cool, warm or hot styles in bop, fusion – and especially pop modes. Of course, as a studio musician and extremely active band mate, he’s played with everyone imaginable in styles ranging from rock to jazz and fusion to free ensembles (a complete Brecker brothers discography is frightening to contemplate).

Here, on his first American solo release in at least eight years, Randy Brecker’s in a familiar Brazilia-light bag. As it’s dedicated to his father, the album’s title is probably as much a play on the words of his dad’s legacy as it is a (probable) reference to Gil Evans’ last words to his own son as he was dying: "Take me to the sun" (Papa Brecker passed away shortly after the album was completed and is touchingly heard here on a 1945 recording made for Randy when he was two weeks old).

The well-recorded Into The Sun is probably half a step better than most smooth jazz. Brecker’s style keeps it smooth and easy. But his playing — a nice combination of the best qualities in both Art Farmer and Freddie Hubbard – raises the thermometer a bit. Brecker’s septet here, featuring producer / keyboardist Gil Goldstein and percussionist Café, is aided by David Sanborn (in the Michael role for "The Sleaze Factor"), and is highlighted by occasional, yet unobtrusive vocals from Maucha Adnet and a small horn section featuring Bob Mintzer. There are some nice easy-funk breaks (reminiscent of late 70s fusion) during "Into The Sun," "After Love" and "Gray Area." It’s on these occasions when Brecker’s playing really cooks. Gil Goldstein, who, it should go without saying by now, rises to the occasion in several exceptional performances too.

Nice music for those who like easy-going Brazilian fusion jazz – but unfortunately inessential.


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