Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Tribute To Michael Brecker

Bill McCann was kind enough to invite me on his "Saturday Morning Edition of Jazz" radio program on WCDB 90.9 FM this past Saturday to present a four hour tribute to the late Michael Brecker.

It was tough choosing a mere four hours of music to showcase considering the body of work Brecker recorded in his lifetime. I ultimately decided on a three part program focusing on his early work as a sideman, his solo recordings and his later work as a sideman. Listening to this music brought back a flood of memories ...


PART ONE – The Early Years (1972 – 1984)

Horace SilverIn Pursuit of the 27th Man (1972)
Track 3 – "Gregory Is Here" (6:18)
Horace Silver (piano), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Bob Cranshaw (electric bass), Mickey Roker (drums)

Hal GalperReach Out (1976)
Track 2 – "I’ll Never Stop Loving You" (7:14)
Hal Galper (piano)

Mel LewisMel Lewis & Friends (1977)
Track 3 – "Moose The Mooche" (8:10)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Hank Jones (piano), Ron Carter (bass) Mel Lewis (drums)

Chet BakerYou Can’t Go Home Again (1977)
Track 1 – "Love For Sale" (13:03)
Chet Baker (trumpet), Richie Beirach (electric piano & clavinet), John Scofield (guitar), Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Alphonso Johnson (electric bass), Tony Williams (drums), Don Sebesky (string arrangement)

Brecker BrothersHeavy Metal Be-Bop (1978)
Track 3 – "Some Skunk Funk" (6:59)
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Barry Finnerty (guitar), Neil Jason (electric bass), Terry Bozio (drums)

Pat Metheny80/81 (1980)
Disc 2, Track 3 – 'Every Day (I Thank You)' (13:16)
Pat Metheny (guitar), Charlie Haden (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Chick CoreaThree Quartets (1981)
Track 8 – "Confirmation" (6:15)
Chick Corea (drums)

Steps AheadSteps Ahead (1983)
Track 1 – "Pools" (11:22)
Eliane Elias (piano), Mike Mainieri (vibes), Eddie Gomez (bass), Peter Erskine (drums)

John AbercrombieNight (1984)
Track 3 – "3 East" (4:27)
John Abercrombie (guitar), Jan Hammer (keyboards), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

PART TWO – Solo Recordings (1987 – 2003)

Michael BreckerMichael Brecker (1987)
Track 5 – "The Cost of Living" (7:49)
Pat Metheny (guitar), Kenny Kirkland (piano), Chalie Haden (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Michael BreckerDon’t Try This At Home (1988)
Track 4 – "Suspone" (4:58)
Mike Stern (guitar), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Jeff Andrews (electric bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums)

Michael BreckerNow You See It … Now You Don’t (1990)
Track 8 – "The Meaning of the Blues" (6:01)
Joey Calderazzo (piano), Jay Anderson (bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums)

Michael BreckerTales From The Hudson (1996)
Track 2 – "Midnight Voyage" (7:18)
Pat Metheny (guitar), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Michael BreckerTwo Blocks From The Edge (1998)
Track 2 – "El Nino" (7:42)
Joey Calderazzo (piano), James Genus (bass), Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums), Don Alias (percussion)

Michael BreckerTime Is Of The Essence (1999)
Track 3 – "Half Past Late" (7:54)
Pat Metheny (guitar), Larry Goldings (organ), Bill Stewart (drums)

Michael Brecker Nearness of You – The Ballad Book (2001)
Track 3 – "Nascente" (6:18)
Pat Metheny (guitar), Herbie Hancock (piano), Chalie Haden (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Michael Brecker QuindectetWide Angles (2003)
Track 6 – "Scylla" (10:40)
Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Peter Gordon (french horn), Steve Wilson (flute), Iain Dixon (clarinet & bass clarinet), Charles Pillow (oboe & English horn), Mark Feldman (violin), Joyce Hammann (violin), Lois Martin (viola), Erik Friedlander (cello), Adam Rogers (guitar), John Patitucci (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums), Daniel Sadownick (percussion)

PART THREE – Late Career (1995 – 2002)

Gary BurtonTimes Like These (1988)
Track 1 – "Times Like These" (6:34)
John Scofield (guitar), Gary Buton (vibes), Marc Johnson (bass), Peter Erskine (drums)

Don GrolnickWeaver of Dreams (1989)
Track 5 – "I Want To Be Happy" (5:45)
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Barry Rogers (trombone), Bob Mintzer (bass clarinet), Don Grolnick (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Peter Erskine (drums)

Brecker BrothersReturn Of The Brecker Brothers (1992)
Track 4 – "Above & Below" (7:05)
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Mike Stern (guitar), George Whitty (keyboards), James Genus (electric bass), Dennis Chambers (drums), Bashiri Johnson (percussion)

Twin Tenors (1993)
Track 2 – "Giant Steps" (6:09)
Bob Minzter (tenor sax), Don Grolnick (piano), Michael Formanek (bass), Peter Erskine (drums)

McCoy TynerInfinity (1995)
Track 2 – "I Mean You" (7:16)
McCoy Tyner (piano), Avery Sharpe (bass), Aaron Scott (drums)

Herbie HancockThe New Standard (1996)
Track 7 – "Scarborough Fair" (8:24)
Herbie Hancock (piano), John Scofield (guitar), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Don Alias (percussion)

Mike SternGive and Take (1997)
Track 2 – "Hook Up" (7:01)
Mike Stern (guitar), John Patitucci (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Charlie HadenAmerican Dreams (2002)
Track 2 – "Travels" (6:44)
Charlie Haden (bass), Brad Mehldau (piano), Brian Blade (drums), Vince Mendoza (string arrangement, conductor)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Michael Brecker (1949-2007)

I was down in NYC yesterday when I learned of Michael Brecker's passing. Needless to say, I'm devastated. If it weren't for him, I doubt I'd be doing what I'm doing with my life. His tone, his mastery of the horn, his unique vocabulary, his ability to fit into any musical situation with ease ... so many things made Brecker my main musical influence ever since I first heard him as a freshman in high school. Over the years I've accumulated a great deal of his music - all of which has served as continual inspiration. I even had the pleasure of meeting and talking to him on several occasions and he was the nicest human being you could imagine. Thanks for the inspiration Mike.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Addendum ...

Each year my "Top 10" list is a continual work in progress. From January to December I acquire a great deal of music but there are certain recordings that grab and hold my attention right from the get-go more than others.

I've long been a fan of trumpeter Dave Douglas and his many ensembles so when I heard that he was releasing another recording by his quintet in April I was elated. Although their last few recordings were fantastic, upon initial listening I wasn't moved by Meaning and Mystery (Greenleaf Music). So, the recording got filed away with so many others from the year that, while enjoyable, I didn't find myself coming back to on a regular basis.

Fast forward to December - Douglas and the Quintet documented a full week of live performances at NYC's Jazz Standard and made the recordings available to the public the very next day on his own Greenleaf Music website. I checked out some of this music and really liked what I heard. This made me go back and reexamine not only the new recording but all of the quintet's releases.

I'm not sure what I was thinking the first time around but Meaning and Mystery is a great album!!! Hearing these compositions in a live setting made me enjoy the studio documentation a little more and I'm really digging Donny McCaslin's sax work. Chris Potter's are some pretty big shoes to fill and McCaslin has done a great job stepping in and bringing his unique approach to improvisation to Douglas' music.

So, add another record to my Top 10, er, 11 of 2006.