Michael Brecker: Time is of the Essence

C. Michael Bailey By

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The Main Event. Michael Brecker’s sixth release is his first for Verve. Each Brecker album has been an event since his self-titled solo debut in 1987. Since that time, he has established himself as a meticulous craftsman who carefully composes his own music while cautiously choosing other’s to interpret. Time Is of The Essence finds Brecker leading an organ-driven quartet with three different drummers (and what drummers they are!)

The Time Keepers. Brecker is joined by the old guard (Elvin Jones), the Young Turk (Jeff “Tain” Watts) and the superb-all-around (Bill Stewart). Each drummer lends his unique expertise where needed, whether it is Jones’ ¾ time on the opener, Watts’ crackling accents on “Sound Off” or Stewart’s precision mechanics on “Renaissance Man”. This is very much Michael Brecker’s tribute to the relationship between the Tenor and Drums forged thirty years ago by another visionary, John Coltrane.

Not All Drums. This recording is also the first Brecker has made with an organ in place of the traditional piano. Larry Goldings was hot as a pistol when Brecker scooped him up for this project. Goldings contributed a composition to the pot “Sound Off” as well as some very distinctive chops. Pat Metheny, who was on hand for Brecker’s solo release in 1987 is back with two compositions (“Timeline” and “As I Am”) in addition to his light-as-a-feather guitar touch.

Time Is of The Essence screams a hip, contemporary ideology and language. All performances are upbeat and swinging cool. This disc is a welcome addition to the discography of one of the most influential tenors of the last 20 years.

Track Listing: Arc of the Pendulum, Sound Off, Half Past Late, Timeline, The Morning of This Night, Renaissance Man, Dr. Slate, As I Am, Outrance (69:31)

Personnel: Michael Brecker- tenor saxophone; Pat Metheny- guitar; Larry Goldings- organ; Elvin Jones, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Bill Stewart- drums

Title: Time Is Of The Essence | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Verve Music Group


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