All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

2

UMO Jazz Orchestra with Michael Brecker: Live in Helsinki 1995

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
If your fondness for big-band jazz includes searching for hidden treasures, here's a recently uncovered gem that should more than gladden your spirit: a concert recording from 1995 by Finland's superb UMO Jazz Orchestra featuring the renowned tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker who left us far too soon a dozen years later at age fifty-seven. The impeccably preserved performance at Helsinki's Royal Cotton Club finds Brecker in his customarily assertive mode, sprinting through ten engaging compositions that run the gamut from bop to ballads to funk.

Even though rapid tempos predominate (and are enthusiastically received by the audience), Brecker is best-served by the ballads (Chuck Clark's "Andrea's Song," Bobby Troup's "The Meaning of the Blues," his own "Never Alone"), on which he is able to employ his remarkable technique in the service of an earnest and impressive warmth of spirit and harmonic awareness. Brecker solos on every number including one (Kimo Lintinen's "Ginare") in tandem with UMO's youngest member, then-twenty-four-year-old tenor saxophonist Manuel Dunkel who writes in the album's liner notes about the singular experience of trading volleys with one of his musical heroes.

The concert includes a pair of songs ("Nica's Dream," "Nutville") by pianist Horace Silver, in whose ensemble Brecker spent several of his formative years before teaming with his brother, trumpeter Randy Brecker, to form the Brecker Brothers band and later co-leading the all-star group Steps Ahead with vibraphonist Mike Mainieri. Besides "Never Alone," Brecker wrote the incisive "Slang" and rhythmic "Song for Barry" (which reminds one of the compositional mindset of another well-known tenor saxophonist, Bob Mintzer). The performance opens with the album's lone standard, Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation," scored in flag-waving fashion by Kenny Berger, and also includes Vince Mendoza's tasteful "Big Picture." Needless to say, Brecker is masterful on every number. Aside from Dunkel, UMO's splendid soloists are unnamed.

For fans of Michael Brecker, Live in Helsinki 1995 will no doubt be akin to finding a cache of pure gold. For those (and there must surely be some) who haven't yet made Brecker's acquaintance, it may serve as a suitable introduction to one of the twentieth century's preeminent jazz tenor saxophonists.

Track Listing: Invitation; Slang; Andrea’s Song; Nica’s Dream; Ginare; The Meaning of the Blues; The Big Picture; Song for Barry; Nutville; Never Alone.

Personnel: Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone; Rich Shemaria: conductor. The UMO Jazz Orchestra – Esko Heikkinen: trumpet; Timo Paasonen: trumpet; Sami Poyhonen: trumpet; Tero Saarti: trumpet; Pentti Lahti: alto sax; Mikko Makinen: alto sax; Teemu Salminen: tenor sax; Manuel Dunkel: tenor sax; Pertti “Pepa” Paivinen: baritone sax; Markku Veijonsuo: trombone; Mikko Mustonen: trombone; Pekka Laukkanen: trombone; Mikael Langbacka: trombone; Seppo Kantonen: piano, keyboards; Markku Kanerva: electric guitar; Pekka Sarmanto: bass; Pekka Pohjola: electric bass (1, 5, 8); Markus Ketola: drums; Ricardo Padilla: percussion (1, 4, 5, 8-10).

Title: Live in Helsinki 1995 | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Random Act Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Atwood Suites CD/LP/Track Review
Atwood Suites
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Theirs CD/LP/Track Review
Theirs
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Jubilation! CD/LP/Track Review
Jubilation!
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 25, 2018
Read And She Speaks - A Collection Of Ballads CD/LP/Track Review
And She Speaks - A Collection Of Ballads
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Let Go CD/LP/Track Review
Let Go
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh CD/LP/Track Review
Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 24, 2018
Read "Promise!" CD/LP/Track Review Promise!
by Don Phipps
Published: April 6, 2018
Read "Danza Imposible" CD/LP/Track Review Danza Imposible
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2017
Read "Rev" CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik" CD/LP/Track Review Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 5, 2017
Read "NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//" CD/LP/Track Review NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017