Randy Brecker: Some Skunk Funk & Soul Bop Band-Live

Jim Santella By

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Ever since his early years with the Brecker Brothers and Blood, Sweat & Tears, Randy Brecker has pioneered the fusion of jazz and rock. He has a contemporary sound that's broad and powerful enough to unite many, if not all, of us under one umbrella.

Randy Brecker

Some Skunk Funk



Recorded live at a 2003 concert performance in Germany with the WDR Big Band, this brotherly funk session (Michael's here too) rocks out with spirits soaring and horns aglow. The ten songs on the program are originals: eight are Randy's and two are Michael's. Each adventurous piece possesses enough highly-charged rhythmic syncopation to encourage the band to cut loose and catch a fire.

Randy Brecker leads authoritatively on trumpet, and provides the program with a running thread. His ballads are pure and simple, while his contemporary funk burns fiercely. The WDR Big Band, a pleasure to listen to in any setting, gives a typically winning performance, featuring stellar solo work and cohesive ensemble interplay. Noteworthy solos include Olivier Peters' soprano on "Wayne Out, Paul Shigihara's grooving guitar on "Shanghigh, Ludwig Nuss's mellow trombone on "Let It Go, and John Marshall's hot trumpet on "Freefall.

Throughout the program, the Brecker brothers and their band (Jim Beard, Will Lee, Peter Erskine and Marcio Doctor) send out a groove that's got legs. Randy's trumpet delivers two passionate ballads notable for their sincerity. The program closes with an interpretation of Michael's "Song For Barry, which nicely balances a big band sound with the Breckers' soulful, small group, fusion of jazz and funk.

Bill Evans & Randy Brecker

Soul Bop Band—Live



Fusion bands can push contemporary jazz into fresh territory when they open up a brand new bag. Armed with a program of new originals, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans and Hiram Bullock, plus their fiery rhythm section, embarked on an extensive, and hugely successful, tour in 2004. This live double disc set proves how outstanding the band sounded.

Unlike situations where too little attention is paid to ensemble interaction, and the emphasis leans too heavily on soloists, the Soul Bop Band has found an effective balance. Brecker, Evans and Bullock sure do solo with authority—but the band also possesses an homogeneous ensemble sound. The leaders converse creatively and create many examples of a cohesive band sound. After all, it takes several different colors to complete a jazz bouquet.

Pianist/organist David Kikoski steps forward and solos, too, as does bassist Victor Bailey. However, the band's wall—to—wall funk/soul sound is what makes the program such a success. Brecker's "Some Skunk Funk lets the band drive hard and fast, while the ensemble sound fills the auditorium with a fiery rage. "Soul Bop introduces a cooler mood, as the band swings with relaxed ease. Brecker contributes a very lame vocal on "Hangin' In The City, for which we'll just have to forgive him.

Representing both the hot and cool of contemporary jazz, Soul Bop Band gives its audience plenty to hold on to everywhere it goes. Live is recommended for its vivacious spirit and fresh ensemble voice.

Tracks and Personnel

Some Skunk Funk

Tracks: Some Skunk Funk; Sponge; Shanghigh; Wayne Out; And Then She Wept; Strap-Hangin'; Let it Go; Freefall; Levitate; Song for Barry.

Personnel: Randy Brecker: trumpet; Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone; Jim Beard: piano, synthesizer; Will Lee: electric bass; Peter Erskine: drums; Marcio Doctor: percussion; The WDR Big Band Köln, arranged and conducted by Vince Mendoza: Heiner Wiberny, Harald Rosenstein: alto saxophone; Olivier Peters, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Rolf Römer: tenor saxophone; Jens Neufang: baritone saxophone; Andy Haderer, Rob Bruynen, Klaus Osterloh, Rick Kiefer, John Marshall: trumpet; Dave Horler, Ludwig Nuss, Bernt Laukamp: trombone; Mattis Cederberg: bass trombone; Paul Shigihara: electric guitar.

Soul Bop Band—Live

Tracks: Rattletrap; Big Fun; Above & Below; Let's Pretend; Some Skunk Funk; Greed; Soul Bop; Tease Me; Cool Eddie; Mixed Grill; Hangin' In The City; Dixie Hop.

Personnel: Randy Brecker: trumpet, vocal; Bill Evans: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Hiram Bullock: guitar, vocal; David Kikoski: keyboard; Victor Bailey: bass; Steve Smith: drums.

Visit Randy Brecker on the web.


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