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 when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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