Trumpeting Randy Brecker’s versatility

Thursday, June 16, 2011 17:10
Posted in category In the News, Upcoming Shows

Veteran jazz trumpet great performs here Saturday

By George Varga |

Randy Brecker may not be the most recorded trumpeter working in contemporary music, but he comes close.

A charter member of Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1967, the Grammy Award-winning Brecker has been a household name among jazz fans for more than 40 years. But this Philadelphia native is truly a musician for all seasons, as evidenced by his dizzying array of non-jazz recording credits.

They include key performances on standout albums by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (“Born to Run”), Lou Reed (“Berlin”), Steely Dan (“Gaucho”), Bette Midler (“Songs for the New Depression”), Frank Zappa (“Zappa in New York”), ?James Taylor (“One Man Dog”), ?Paul Simon (“One-Trick Pony”) and Todd Rundgren (“A Wizard, A True Star”).

The above list, incidentally, does not include Brecker’s equally memorable work on albums by everyone from Aerosmith, B.B. King, Chaka Khan and Ringo Starr to Average White Band, Dire Straits, Yoko Ono and former San Diego singer-songwriter Michael Franks. Nor does it include his Grammy-winning albums with the Brecker Brothers, the cutting-edge jazz-funk band he co-led with his brother, the equally eclectic sax great Michael Brecker (who died in 2007).

Randy Brecker’s versatility is a matter of record. So is the excellence this sterling trumpeter brings to any musical setting. That’s why his Saturday performance here at the all-ages Anthology is such a cause for excitement.

True, it’s not his gig — he’s appearing as part of saxophonist Jimmy Mulidore’s New York City Jazz Band. But any opportunity to witness Brecker’s exemplary tone and technique up close is a treat. Ditto his ability to improvise with unerring ingenuity whether playing hard-bop, gritty blues, a buoyant Latin groove or a stately ballad. At 65, he’s a marvel of instrumental fire and eloquence.

(Mulidore is a lifelong fan, musical acolyte and erstwhile collaborator of jazz saxophone legend James Moody, who died here in December. It will be surprising if Saturday’s concert at Anthology doesn’t include a spoken or musical tribute to Moody, or both.)