Randy Brecker

Live at Sweet Basil

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Trumpeter Brecker is at the top of his game in a live club setting. This one, done at Sweet Basil in NYC with a quintet sans brother Michael but with Bob Berg on tenor sax, showcases not only Brecker's fleet, sweet, bright tonal style, but also his mettle as a composer, penning all seven pieces here. Pianist David Kikoski, bassist Dieter Ilg, and drummer Joey Baron comprise a rhythm section playing together with the Brecker-Berg tandem for the first time. Brecker specializes in elongated, complicated core melodies. Two of his very best are included, including the absolutely gorgeous "Moontide," done originally on his In the Idiom recording. Kikoski tosses in some synth washes, but as on all of this, they are very much in the background, under mixed. "Thrifty Man" for Horace Silver is uncharacteristic of the soul jazz godfather -- a dauntingly stretched melody on top of an easy rhythmic bed, and pristine sonic union from Brecker's piquant trumpet and Berg's brash tenor. The most popping numbers -- "Ting Chang" for Tony Williams and Elvin Jones, or "Mojoe" for Joe Henderson -- are real-time jams, hard-driving, forward-thinking hard bop. Baron is particularly animated, excited, and on the mark with every measure. "The Sleaze Factor" is the most intriguing number, one that purposefully slows as the piece wears on in its slippery leech, lugubrious, funky samba fashion. Kikoski is consistently excellent on piano and Baron's really on it, while Brecker with Berg instrumentally sing melodies of hope, freedom, and joy. As much fun as this is to listen to, it was obviously a blast for the musicians to create as well. A fine addition to Randy Brecker's too-small discography as a leader.

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