Randy Brecker has been at the forefront of jazz since the late 1960s. His debut album as leader way back in 1969 was Score (Solid State). In addition to numerous albums under his own name he's also recorded with George Benson, Duke Pearson, Dreams and Larry Coryell's Eleventh House, to name just a few. But perhaps he is best known for the albums he produced with his younger brother, the late Michael Brecker as The Brecker Brothers. Lest people forget what a significant force of nature the BBs were, Stuart Nicholson in his book Jazz-Rock: A History, described the Breckers' horn lines as becoming "the model for countless fusion bands in the 1980s and 1990s."
So this recording, made with the NDR Big Band in January 2017 and May 2018, revives fond memories of the Breckers' illustrious outfit by including within the nine track selection no fewer than five tracks originally recorded by the brothers. Another three tracks are taken from Randy Brecker's The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion (Piloo, 2013) namely "First Tune Of The Set," "Adina" and "The Dipshit." The exception to this is "Pastoral" which Brecker originally wrote as a elegiac tribute to the late Jaco Pastorius (with whom he recorded two albums) and which was first released on his 2001 record Hangin' In The City (ESC Records). This is a sumptuous outing with Brecker's flugelhorn playing at its most lyrical.
The brash opener, "First Tune Of The Set," the brass embellished by chirruping synth, is followed by the relatively stately pace of "Adina" with Brecker delivering a majestic flugelhorn solo and Ada Rovatti following with a lissom soprano solo. The BB funk of "Squids" from Don't Stop The Music (Arista, 1977) still has those unmistakable hooks, revivified by the orchestra and a meaty tenor solo by Frank Delle. "The Dipshit," a Latin-esque romp, features a soaring alto solo by BB alumnus David Sanborn. Reassuringly, over the course of half a century, Brecker has lost none of his superlative virtuosity as evidenced by his rivetingly ebullient trumpet solos on, for example, "Above And Below" and the title track taken from the brothers' eponymous debut album (Arista, 1975) replete with its trademark funky clavinet. With auspicious augmentation courtesy of the magnificent NDR Big Band, this album is, in effect, a Brecker Brothers redux, with bells on.
First Tune Of The Set; Adina; Squids; Pastoral; The Dipshit; Above And Below; Sozinho; Rocks;
Randy Brecker: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Sanborn: alto saxophone; Ada Rovatti: tenor saxophone,
soprano saxophone; Wolfgang Haffner: drums. NDR Bigband: Jörg Achim Keller:conductor; Thorsten
Benkenstein, Ingolf Burkhardt, Claus Stötter, Reiner Winterschladen: trumpet; Fiete Felsch, Peter
Bolte: alto saxophone, reeds; Frank Delle, Björn Berger: tenor saxophone, reeds; Edgar Herzog:
baritone saxophone, reeds; Dan Gottshall, Sebastian Stanko, Klaus Heidenreich: trombones; Stefan
Lottermann, Ingo Lahme: bass trombone, tuba; Christian Diener: electric bass, acoustic bass;
Vladyslav Sendecki: keyboards; Bruno Müller: guitar; Marcio Doctor: percussion.