Randy Brecker, “New Frontier” (2015): Something Else! exclusive stream

Share this:

When sizing up the long, productive career of trumpet maestro Randy Brecker, I think to view his body of work in three buckets: his solo career, secondly as one half of the pioneering funk-jazz outfit The Brecker Brothers and finally as a first-call sideman. It wasn’t so long ago when we last examined a record to which he contributed — and it certainly won’t be the last — and that record recently topped the iTunes Contemporary Jazz rankings. But Brecker had been present on hit records going all the way back to the late 60s when he was a member of the original Blood, Sweat and Tears lineup.

RandyPOP, slated for released September 18, 2015, collects just a handful of these numerous historical recordings and performs them live. What’s more, Randy Brecker made sure they wouldn’t sound quite like the original because he asked his pianist Kenny Werner to, in his words, “de-range” these tunes within a modern jazz context. Brecker can assemble an impressive group of sidemen himself, having enlisted Werner, David Sanchez (tenor sax), Adam Rogers (guitar), Nate Smith (drums) and John Patitucci (bass) to form his RandyPOP band for this wide-ranging collection of covers that remakes songs by Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Todd Rundgren.

The first song Brecker & Co. tackles isn’t one Randy Brecker originally played on, but Donald Fagen’s “New Frontier” qualifies for the purpose of the RandyPOP record because he contributed elsewhere on the Nightfly album. And besides, Brecker with Werner’s help does some pretty nifty things with this song. We’ve posted an exclusive advance stream above for you to hear for yourself.

Werner, manning the electric piano, doesn’t rework the song to something completely different; you’ll immediately identify it from the climbing bass figure that launches it. The distinctions, however, comes mainly from the vocal and horn arrangements: Brecker’s daughter Amanda Brecker sings Fagen’s lyrics and does a fine, flawless job with it. She adds a just a touch of jazzy sass to her vocal delivery and largely traces the twisting horn charts, which stand in place of the backing vocals of the original. Later on, Randy Brecker himself blows his solo using an FX-ed trumpet in his bop-derived diction. Rogers on guitar follows close behind with his rock-derived one.

Randy Brecker knows his way around pop and he knows his way around modern jazz. Here’s where he puts together his know-how from both idioms that provides hints as to why he’s so well regarded by so many artists with such widely different visions.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
Share this:
Close