WBGO Radar

Randy Brecker: The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion

Cover art for Randy Brecker's CD The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion

All men are brothers, says Gandhi. If Randy Brecker and his alter ego Randroid are to be believed, then we are all funk brothers, and all brothers are Breckers, should we accept the invitation he extends on this CD. 

The Brothers Brecker - Randy the elder on trumpet and Michael on sax - cut an electric swath through the seventies and eighties, opening a new generation's ears to the possibilities of modern jazz. Synthesizers, funk grooves and humor made an intoxicating brew.

All of these elements are on The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion, which came together in a happy accident, Randy explains. As he assembled a group for a week at New York's Blue Note nightclub in 2011, he realized that every one on his list belonged at one time or another to he band he led for three decades with Michael, who died of leukemia in 2007.

Keyboardist George Whitty, drummer Dave Weckl and guitarists Mike Stern, Adam Rogers and Dean Brown, and about ten others are all here - the group's Blue Note stint is captured as a DVD in this package, while the CD was cut around the corner at NYU's studios.

Michael's spirit can be heard throughout, perhaps most poignantly on "Elegy For Mike," which features the exceptionally evocative soprano saxophone of Ada Rovatti, who happens to be Randy's wife and mother to their three-year-old daughter Stella. Ada gets her due - and plays up a storm - on "Adina," and plays tenor on the the disc's Brazil-tinged second track, "Stellina." David Sanborn makes memorable alto contributions to two tracks.

Stern's guitar rips open "The Slag" and several other tunes, lest you imagine you have wandered into a peaceful garden of swing. Whitty's analog synths and Weckl's cowbells may be calculated to evoke the eighties, but they lay a perfect bed for Brecker's virtuosic, poised lines and precise unisons, which speak straight from the heart of bebop. 

And now for Randroid. This streetwise fellow, who made his first appearance on Randy's 2001 CD Hangin' In The City, is back, but he has been housebroken - his rap on "Really In For It" is a tongue-in-cheek homage to domesticity, and his "Musician's Ol' Lady Dues Blues" laments the weary woes of the hard-traveling hornman. 

This is a band that knows how to party. Never mind that they have chops to spare. Thanks, Randy, for inviting us to join the fun.

      - Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer 

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