Perhaps unfairly overshadowed by his brother, the late saxophonist Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker has, nevertheless been one of the most significant trumpeters of the past forty years. While his small discography as a leader contains as many misses as it does hits, he's brought a unique voice to countless sessions, working with everyone from Horace Silver, Steve Khan and John Scofield to Steely Dan, Parliament and Frank Zappa, not to mention redefining the concept of fusion as co-leader of Brecker Brothers. Brecker's tone- -a curious combination of warmth and biteand a harmonic approach that, like Scofield, manages to tread the fine line between the in and the out, all the while possessing a keenly constructed melodic sense, makes him immediately recognizable in any context. Recorded in Brazil with a large cast of talented players, Randy in Brasil is Brecker at his most accessible, with style and substance on equal footing.
The lack of a core group often results in a generic sound that looks to the leader for definition, and Brecker's voice clearly gives Randy in Brasil its primary focus. Still, the participation of keyboardist/producer/arranger Ruria Duprat and guitarist Ricardo Silveira on all tracks lends the session a cohesion most "cast of thousands" projects lack. The material is largely culled from popular Brazilian writes including Djavan, Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins and Joao Bosco, though Brecker's two contributionsthe breezy ballad "Guaruja" and up-tempo, samba-esque yet characteristically funkified "Sambop"fit seamlessly into the program.
The Brecker Brothers often dabbled with broader cultural styles, and Brecker is no stranger to Brazilian music having guested with Flora Purim, Joao Donato and Hector Martignon. Most remarkable about Randy in Brasil is perhaps how he places a firm stamp on the music, with a sometimes pervasive Brecker Brothers vibe despite the lack of a rhythm section on most tracks. Duprat's appreciation for Brecker's distinct horn voicings makes Lins' funky, synth bass-driven "Aiaiai" feel, in fact, as if it were drawn straight from The Brecker Brothers' songbook.
Equally, Brecker adapts effortlessly to the cadence of Brazilian rhythmic forms like bossa nova and samba. There's no denying the Brazilian groove of Gil's bright "Ile Aye," the contemporary vibe of Djavan's "Me Leve" or the light, airy feel of Bosco's "Olhos Puxados." Throughout, Brecker solos with attention to the tune's melodic and percussive essencenavigating his own winding changes on "Sambop" as he constructs a solo of narrative perfection that demonstrates his full range, and displaying equal focus but greater lyrical simplicity on "Olhos Puxados."
As a leader, Brecker's albums have sometimes lacked a clear focus or, in the case of Hanging in the City (ESC, 2001), a misplaced one with his vocal alter-ego Randroid. With its lush sound, beautiful song choices and ideal mesh of Brazilian culture and Brecker's singular voice, Randy in Brasil stands as one of his finestif not the finestalbums in his long and varied career.
Track Listing: Pedro Brasil; Ile Aye; Guaruja; Me Leve; Malasia; Sambop; Oriente; Maca; Olhos Puxados;
Rebento; Fazendo Hora; Aiaiai.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.