Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Randy Brecker Interview, Part 2

Randy Brecker's music is part of my life. He has been one of my main idols for 43 years! So, I'm proud and honored to post the second part of this interview with the most recorded trumpet player in music history.
Arnaldo: In recent years, you have released several albums with big bands and even symphony orchestras. Let’s talk about them, starting with “The Jazz Ballad Song Book,” recorded in Copenhagen with the DR Big Band.

Randy: Asked to play by my friend Chris Minh Doky who was musical director and also we had been playing together in Mike Stern’s band. So I flew over at the last minute to Cope, did one rehearsal in the morning that I flew in, recorded everything the next day without listening to playbacks, did one concert the next night and then flew home. Had almost forgotten about the whole thing, but months later Minh sent me some roughs and I thought ‘wow this stuff sounds great’ so we mixed it long distance with the help of George Whitty in California. Jeff Levenson of Half Note Records put it out. It got nominated for 4 Grammys! Fine writing/playing on that one!

Arnaldo: How these projects are born? Your management approaches the bands or they contact you? Do you usually have plenty time to rehearse or all the process is very fast like happened with the CTI All Stars, when you arrived for the first concert at Montreux a few hours before the concert and with no prior rehearsal?

Randy: Usually they are born with the director of each band. They have to come up with a program each year, and usually there is very little rehearsal time. Exceptions to that are the NDR and WDR Big Bands in Germany, because they are a full time operation and have rehearsals as part of the deal.
Arnaldo: In 2013, you released that wonderful album with Wlodek Pawlik and the Kalisz Philharmonic. How did it came about? That piece was written specifically to you? Is there a video of live performances?

Randy: Yes, it was written for me. We had done a previous similar project, “Nostalgic Journey,” with another Orchestra, that came out well, so Wlodek approached me with this idea. There is also a live video released in Poland where we performed the piece live and on TV on their version of the Grammys after it won the Grammy in LA. It also won ‘Record of the Year’ in was a big deal over there!
Arnaldo: Two other magnificent projects came out in 2015: “Dearborn Station” with the DePaul University Ensemble (opening with an amazing big band arrangement of Squids), and “Trumpet Summit Prague” with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

Randy: My old friend from DePaul University, trumpeter Bob Lark, put that one together. Every so often, they do a live project at Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase in Chicago, so I played 4 nights and they recorded a couple of the nights. The band was just great and the club was packed…another great CD! "Trumpet Summit" was fun too and also a wonderful CD organized by Jan Hasenrohl who plays trumpet in, and runs the Czech Nat’l Symphony. They also do a lot of film work, it's a great orchestra. It was such a great honor to play with Jan and Bobby Shew!
Arnaldo: It’s great to listen to you playing standards like “Well, You Needn’t” and “On Green Dolphin Street” on the “Dearborn Station” CD. Did you ever consider a solo album playing standards exclusively?

Randy: Yes that will be coming soon. I have never done a standards, blowing, record so that is in the pipeline for maybe next year.

Arnaldo: Please tell us about “Village Dawn” and “Creature of Many Faces”, your two compositions on “Trumpet Summit Prague”. Do you consider yourself an underrated composer like I do?

Randy: Well I don’t think along those lines, but I just love to write things that I can play on. It also helps me find my musical identity!
Arnaldo: I love your DVDs with Jaco Pastorius, with his sextet and the other one in Tokyo with the Word of Mouth big band. How was your relationship with him?

Randy: We were very close and I miss him very much. Our Dads were friendly too, since Jack, Jaco’s dad, lived near Philly so they played together a bit too..Jack was a singer and my dad Bobby was a singer, songwriter and piano player. Both the sextet (with Bob Mintzer, Peter Erskine, Don Alias, Othello Molineaux) and the big band (with Toots Thielemans as special guest) were wonderful.
Arnaldo: That previous question remembered of an album on which you played with Jaco and Michel Colombier: Flora Purim’s “Everyday Everynight” in 1977. Which are your recollections of that album? Besides being a member of the brass section in several tunes, you play a short beautiful solo on the title track!

Randy: Well, we recorded the brass section (with Mike, David Sanborn, Jon Faddis, Raul de Souza) at the Sound Ideas Studio in New York. Flora was there and she directed the whole thing and gave me that solo since, as she said, she “wanted to hear my music!”
Arnaldo: Claus Ogerman, who is a God for me, passed away last March. Of course, Michael was closer to him, because they had recorded three magnificent albums together. But you played so beautifully on their last one, for GRP. Did you met Claus or just overdubbed your parts later with [producer] Tommy LiPuma?

Randy: Overdubbed the part. We were both overdubbed on that one- but Claus was there! He was fantastic and truly missed. No one else like him.
Arnaldo: In 2013, you have put together that Brecker Brothers Band Reunion. How did you chose the band members? That DVD is superb, and I was amazed to see that the new tunes (like First Tune of the First Set, Adina and Stellina) are in the same level of the “old” Brecker Brothers classics. And that’s why I say you are an underrated composer… What’s your “method” to write a tune? The melodies just came in your mind or do you seat to work and create a song structure first?

Randy: Well, I wanted to choose guys I had been playing with recently that had also been in the band at some point in time, hence the personnel that I came up with… Yes it was fun to write new material with the Brecker Bros style in mind. No real method so to speak. Sometimes I have a melody. Sometimes, a set of changes or maybe a bass line or rhythm. Then I put together a puzzle of ideas, sometimes working from the inside out and rework stuff many many times. It’s almost never finished really… don’t really work with a grid or structures, and just sit at the keyboard for long periods of time. It’s also like a craft…you have to put the time in, and not wait for so-called ‘inspiration’…
Arnaldo: It’s so beautiful to see you playing live with Ada Rovatti, the way you look to each other in mutual admiration and respect. When and how did you met? When did you marry? And how old is Stella now? Is she still playing violin?

Randy: We met 20 years ago on a gig with me and Swiss trumpet master Franco Ambrosetti fronting a great Italian big band that she was in. We got married 15 years ago, December 22 in New York City. Stella will be 8 on November 12th and is playing the violin, singing and dancing.
Arnaldo: Michael was one of the best musicians that ever lived. Like you do, he was always able to achieve a balance between his tremendous technique and emotion. Everything he did was brilliant, I never heard a non-superb solo by Michael. Neither by you. How it happens? How are you able to play always soulful solos that are perfectly built?

Randy: Well, probably both of us would disagree with you! Haha! But Mike spent hours upon hours practicing and listening and working on music…  and so do I! I like to practice 2 or 3 hours a day at home.
Arnaldo: Like me, millions of people in the world felt devastated with Michael’s death and his long period battling that disease. How did you deal with all of this? When you play a Brecker Brothers Band Reunion concert, you feel sad somehow? Or the personal sadness doesn’t affects the playing?

Randy: I’m very proud of my brother’s accomplishments in Music and Life and it’s just wonderful to keep his memory alive at live concerts. Of course at the same time we will always miss him…so it’s bittersweet but he also became a great composer in his own right, so it’s so much fun to play his tunes!
Arnaldo: Right now I can’t stop listening to your “RandyPop!” album. Terrific solos and those superb Kenny Werner’s arrangements. How the idea for that album came up? Which was your criteria to chose the final songs?

Randy: It was Ada’s idea a long time ago, then Jeff Levenson from the Blue Note NYC had a similar idea - we had done a project together featuring singer Roseanna Vitro that Kenny arranged: old pop songs she liked re-arranged, so I thought of him immediately - that’s right down his alley. So I sent him a bunch of stuff I had played on back in the day,  and he chose the ones that spoke to him. Yes, he totally ‘de-ranged’ the songs, just like I wanted!
Arnaldo: I’m deeply impressed with the vocal performances of your daughter Amanda Brecker on “RandyPop!” Not only a beautiful voice, but powerful interpretations. Did you support her decision to become a professional singer? Have you played on her live gigs?

Randy: Have played on her videos and records. Yes, it’s something she’s always wanted to do, and now she’s also a successful NYC real estate agent so she has the best of both worlds. She co-wrote a project with Kurt Rosenwinkel that I have yet to hear, but it will be out soon. A Brazilian flavored CD!
Arnaldo: A new Brecker Brothers Reunion Band just came out in Japan, recorded during a 2014 world tour, when you played in Brazil for the last time. Which is the repertoire?

Randy: I call it the “Heavy Metal Bebop Band” with legendary drummer Terry Bozzio, bassist Neil Jason, guitarist Barry Finnerty (the original guys on the 1978 album for Arista) and me and Ada. Features almost all tunes from that record -- Sponge, Inside Out, Squids, Some Skunk Funk, East River -- and new tunes by Barry (Mikey B), Ada (Ghost Stories), and Terry (Under Surveillance). Record live at a rock styled club in Tokyo, the Club Citta, and it's being released only in Japan by Ward Records.
Arnaldo: Besides the international tours, you've been playing a lot in the U.S. recently, right?

Randy: Playing tomorrow with drummer Chris Parker trio here in NYC and then flying to Japan. Did a nice CD with his trio called "Blue Prints - The music of Arif Mardin," produced by Arif's son Joe and with liner notes by Quincy Jones! I'll also play in China, and then back to New York for a gig as a guest with pianist Bradley Young in tribute to Chet Baker, on October 27th.
Arnaldo: Which are your next recording projects?

Randy: “Brecker Plays Rovatti.” Going to record all of Ada’s new tunes which are great and original. So it’ll be a Brecker /Rovatti co-billed CD for the first time! Then hopefully a quartet blowing record of standards, finally... THEN maybe another Brecker Bros Band Reunion with some of my tunes if I ever write them. It’s hard to write when you know you are not going to be paid, like the old days, so I’m spending more time on the horn and traveling these days. The Biz has changed a lot… I always wrote for fun, but also for $! So we’ll see! I’ll get around to it sooner or later…promise!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Acoustic Covers of Pop Hits Needed for TV and Film Placements

ACOUSTIC-Based (Piano and/or Guitar) SINGER/SONGWRITER-Style COVERS of current songs are needed by the CEO of a NON-Exclusive Music Library that gets lots of placements in popular TV Shows. Male, Female, or Duet Vocals are both welcome for this pitch. Give them organic, well-crafted Covers in All-Tempos that could be found on a Cover Song playlist with versions like (but not limited to) these:

“Demons” by Tyler Ward & Kina Grannis
“Best Thing I Never Had” by Megan & Liz
“Heathens” by Boyce Avenue
“This Is What You Came For” by Madilyn Bailey
“Swimming Pools” by DEMAR
“Crazy” by Ray LaMontagne
“Cold Water” by Conor Maynard
“Sorry” by Matt Johnson
“Heartless” by Kris Allen
“I Kissed A Girl” by William Fitzsimmons

Give them well-performed Covers of recognizable Pop hits that stay true to the original melody, lyric, and arrangement, but strip them down, make them acoustic, feel free to try new tempos, and make them your own cool interpretation! In other words, stick to the original melody and lyrics, but re-imagine them. They’re NOT looking for covers of dated Pop hits.

The more contemporary the better! Please be sure your vocal performance is compelling, with plenty of character and personality. Your Covers can be solely Guitar/Vocal or Piano/Vocal, or a fuller sounding production with some additional instrumentation. Broadcast quality is needed (great sounding home recordings are fine).

This Library offers a NON-EXCLUSIVE deal. You must own or control your Master Recording. All submissions will be screened on a Yes/No basis - No full critiques.

Please submit one to three Covers Songs online or per CD no later than 11:59PM (PDT), on Monday, November 7th, 2016. TAXI #Y161107CV

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Louis Armstrong House Museum hosts 6th Annual Gala

The Louis Armstrong House Museum announces 2016 Louie Award recipients! The Louie Award is the museum's annual award presented in honor of dedicated work to preserve and promote the cultural legacy of Louis Armstrong. The Louis Armstrong House Museum will honor Randy Fertel (Writer, President, Fertel Foundation), Catherine Russell (Award Winning Vocalist), and Hon. Eric Schneiderman (New York State Attorney General) during its Gala 2016, held at the sumptuous Capitale.  The Grammy-Award winning Russell will cap the evening with an exciting live performance.

This year's distinguished honorees join past recipients Quincy Jones, Dick Cavett, Dr. John, Cyrille Neville, Robert F. Smith, Jerome Chazen, Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, George Wein, and Dan Morgenstern.

Philanthropist and author, Randy Fertel is synonymous with New Orleans. Fertel has taught English at Harvard University - where he earned a PhD in English and American Literature. Mr. Fertel is the author of two books - A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation and The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak: A New Orleans Family. As President of the Fertel Foundation and Ruth U. Fertel Foundation, named after his mother, Ruth Fertel, founder of Ruth's Chris Steak House, he's made countless contributions to the arts, education, and the environment in New Orleans. Fertel is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York City.

Grammy Award winning vocalist Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, and a graduate of American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Ms. Russell has toured the world, performing and recording with David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, and Rosanne Cash, among others, appearing on over 200 albums. Catherine Russell has performed on four continents, always to great critical acclaim.

Eric T. Schneiderman was elected the 65th Attorney General of New York State on November 2, 2010. He is the highest ranking law enforcement officer for the State of New York. Before becoming Attorney General, Eric was praised as a leading reformer in the State Senate by numerous editorial pages and good government organizations. Eric graduated from Amherst College in 1977 and Harvard Law School in 1982. He is a huge Louis Armstrong fan.

All proceeds from Gala 2016 benefit the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the long-time home of Louis and Lucille Armstrong, a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark in Corona, Queens.  Since opening in 2003, more than 150,000 visitors from all over the world have been introduced to the wonderful world of Louis Armstrong. The Museum's programs feature historic house tours, jazz concerts, and a wide variety of educational programs. The Museum's research archives is the largest in the world for any jazz musician.

Thanks to the vision and funding of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the Louis Armstrong House Museum welcomes visitors, six days per week, 52 weeks per year. The Louis Armstrong House Museum is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, Association of African American Museums, Museums Council of New York City, New York State Museums Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, NYC & Co., and the Queens Tourism Council. The museum is a constituent of Kupferberg Center for the Arts, Queens College / CUNY.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
6:30pm: Cocktails and Hors d'oeuvres
7:30pm: Awards Ceremony, Dinner, & Performance (Catherine Russell Octet)

130 Bowery
New York, NY 10013

RSVP: or 718.478.8274 x 103

Friday, October 14, 2016

Scot Albertson & Ron Jackson live in NY, Oct 20

This next Thursday, Oct. 20, - 9:00p. - 11:30p, don't miss a vocal/guitar duo evening in NYC with Scot Albertson & Ron Jackson.
The place? Tomi Jazz at 239 East 53rd St. (between 2nd & 3rd Aves.)
Reserv. Tel. # 646.497.1254
NO Cover & $5.00 Food / Drink Minimum. -- --

Monday, October 10, 2016

Jane Ira Bloom Plays Emily Dickinson @ Kennedy Center, Oct 14

Wild Lines: Jane Ira Bloom Plays Emily Dickinson at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this Friday, October 14th at 7 & 9 pm.
Featuring: Dawn Clement, Bobby Previte, Kent McLagen, & actor Deborah Rush.

In this new work, which features jazz quartet and spoken word, 21st-century soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom explores the poetry of 19th-century visionary Emily Dickinson. The ensemble is complemented by pianist Dawn Clement, bassist Kent McLagan, drummer Bobby Previte, and actress Deborah Rush. A perennial winner in the Jazz Station Annual Awards, Bloom is regarded as a pioneer in the use of live electronics and movement in jazz, as well as a strong proponent for multidisciplinary collaborations with other art forms, such as painting, film, theater, and dance.

Performance Timing: 75 minutes, with no intermission.

This program is made possible with support from Chamber Music America's 2015 New Jazz Works Program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

All ticket prices are subject to change based on demand. Purchase early to lock in prices and the best seats!

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20566
Building opens Mon.–Sat. at 10 a.m. and Sun. and Holidays at 12 noon.

Tickets & Information:
(202) 467-4600
Toll-Free: (800) 444-1324
TTY: (202) 416-8524
Box Office Hours:
Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.,
Sun. and Holidays, noon-9 p.m

The Randy Brecker Interview, Part 1

I've been a huge Randy Brecker fan for over 40 years, long before the Brecker Brothers days. Actually, since 1973, when I was deeply impressed by his solos on the "Donato/Deodato" album. At that time, although I was only 10 years old, I'd been exposed to some great trumpet heroes - Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Art Farmer and Freddie Hubbard were my favorites at that time and, not even in my wildest dreams, I could imagine I would meet all of them in person some years later.
But Randy, from the first bars of his solo on the track "Capricorn" from that "Donato/Deodato" album, sounded completely different and original in terms of phrasing and tone. He already had his own sound, his own "message." He already was a stylist. And then I began to purchase each and every record with his name on the credits - albums by Horace Silver, Duke Pearson, Gary McFarland, Mark Murphy, the debut album of Blood Sweat & Tears, and two very special records by a band that blew me away, Dreams!
43 years later, Randy, now aged 70 and a 5-time Grammy winner, is a true living legend, surely one of the best trumpeters not only in jazz history, but in the music history, because he has been an integral part of the evolution of pop, jazz, funk, r&b, rock, everything. An infallible player, Randy Brecker became one of the most-in-demand "studio cats" in the NY scene since the mid-70s, was a member of Larry Coryell & The Eleventh House, and founded The Brecker Brothers with the much missed Michael Brecker, the greatest tenor virtuoso that ever lived.
Randy has played and recorded with the most important names of all genres & styles. From James Brown to Frank Sinatra, from Average White Band to Lou Reed, from Steely Dan to Aerosmith, from Charles Mingus to Elton John, Jaco Pastorius, Luiz Bonfá, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Frank Zappa, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Esther Phillips, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, and arrangers like Oliver Nelson, Michel Legrand, Bob James, Don Sebesky, David Matthews and Claus Ogerman. The list goes on and on.
Yesterday, checking my collection, I counted 506 albums on which he plays on. But the famous Discogs website lists 1,053 titles! Plus over 100 sessions as leader, co-leader or featured artist. His "videography" is equally amazing, including LaserDiscs and DVDs as a leader as well as with the Brecker Brothers, the Gil Evans Orchestra, the Louie Bellson Big Band, some gala concerts coordinated by Roger Kellaway for the Jazzvisions series, special projects featuring Charles Mingus' music like "Epitaph" and a concert with the Metropole Orkestra, Frank Sinatra's "Portrait Of An Album" (the "LA Is My Lady" making-of produced by Quincy Jones), Chroma's "Music On The Edge" and, most recently, a Blu-ray with the CTI All Star Jazz Band.
Married to the fabulous sax player Ada Rovatti, the proud father of Stella (their 7-year old princess) and the very talented singer Amanda Elias Brecker (from his marriage with Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias), he currently keeps working as much as ever, recording many splendid albums such as "Night In Calisia," "Dearborn Station," "The Jazz Ballad Song Book," "Randy Pop!", and touring a lot all over the world in different gigs, often playing live 4 or 5 times a week! After recent performances in Europe, Russia and Ukraine, and several appearances in the U.S. in tributes to Phil Woods and Lew Soloff, besides a gig with Lew Tabackin, another one with Chris Parker celebrating the release of an album they recorded in honor of Arif Mardin, and an engagement in Japan with Mike Mainieri's Steps Ahead Meets Soul Bop project, he now starts a tour in China this week.

Needless to say, it's a great honor for me to present this exclusive interview with this brilliant composer and trumpet master, my friend & idol Randal Edward Brecker, to the Jazz Station blog.
Arnaldo: The first time I heard you (and immediately fell in love with your playing) was on the “Donato/Deodato” album released in 1973 on Muse Records. I was 10 years old! You did truly perfect solos, sometimes very melodic, on tracks like “Capricorn,” and other times very adventurous like on the funky “Nightripper.” What do you remember of that album? Did you record together with the rhythm section or overdubbed your parts?

Randy: Well that was early on, so I don’t remember that much, but it was a live date at Sound Ideas Studio in NYC for Muse Records, engineered by George Klabin, and I knew the names, but wasn’t that familiar with their music, so I kind of had to feel my way into it! Ray Barretto, Allan Schwartzberg, Bob Rose, Michael Gibson, Romeo Penque and the bass player Wilbur Bascomb, son of trumpet player Dud Bascomb, were in the band. I was very young!
Arnaldo: “Donato/Deodato” was the first time you were exposed to Brazilian and latin rhythms? Or have you heard people like Antonio Carlos Jobim and other bossa nova masters prior to that recording? Were you familiar with Donato or Deodato?

Randy: Like I said I had heard the names and loved Brazilian music at that time, but hadn’t played much of it yet…first heard Brazilian Music on the FM radio in Philly. The DJ was interviewing Herbie Mann about his trip there, and he was fanatically touting Bossa Nova as the ‘new thing’. He was a fanatic! The music spoke to me right away - I was hooked!
Arnaldo: Around that same time, I started to see your name, sometimes credited as Randal Brecker, on some CTI albums by Don Sebesky ("Giant Box") and Grover Washington Jr ("Soul Box.") Which was your first recording for Creed Taylor? And your first session at the Van Gelder Studio?

Randy: First session, at least as a soloist for Creed, might have been Idris Muhammad’s "Power of Soul" on March '74, arranged by Bob James, with Gary King, Joe Beck, Grover Washington Jr. for the Kudu label. First session at Rudy’s was with Duke Pearson’s Big Band (I was in the trumpet section alongside Marvin Stamm, Burt Collins and Joe Shepley) on December 1967 for Blue Note, then some albums also for Blue Note with Horace Silver (the first one had Billy Cobham, John Williams and Bennie Maupin), and many, many, CTI dates. My first solo album, "Score," was also recorded there for the Solid State label (with my old pal Hal Galper, Eddie Gomez, Chuck Rainey, Larry Coryell, Bernard Purdie, Mickey Roker, Jerry Dodgion and my brother Michael) in 1968! I was there quite a bit. What a great space to play! The studio itself made you play better because of the ambience.
Arnaldo: The first Brecker Brothers album that I reviewed (because I was already writing a jazz column for Rio de Janeiro’s daily newspaper Tribuna da Imprensa at that time) was “Detente” and it was released in my native Brazil. So it has a special place in my heart. Could you please tell me your impressions about that album? I remember Airto plays in several tracks. Who had the idea to invite him to the sessions?

Randy: That was George Duke’s idea. He was a great producer and we had a ball working with him. It was our 5th BB record on Arista and we had recently made “peace” with the label, hence the title of the record. I think there is really wonderful music on that record. Great tunes
and production, with Neil Jason, Steve Gadd, Paulinho Da Costa, Ralph MacDonald, Steve Jordan, Don Grolnick, Mark Gray... George was really a ‘pro’ and was into our music so he really was a part of that CD...oops: (ahem) ‘Record.’…no CDs back then.
Arnaldo: I’ll never forget the night I saw you performing live for the first time, in Sao Paulo, back in 1980, with the Mingus Dynasty band. It amazed me to see you playing in an acoustic concert, very different from the Brecker Brothers style. How was your experience with that band?

Randy: Well, I was with various Mingus bands for around 30 years after he passed and it was always an honor and privilege to play his music. Mingus was a big influence on both we and Mike. His souful compositions and the way he utilized the horns in collective improvisation always amazed me. I also played on Mingus' very last recording sessions, released by Atlantic on the albums "Me Myself An Eye" and "Something Like A Bird," when he was not playing bass anymore, but composing and directing the sessions from a wheelchair.
Arnaldo: The second time I saw you live was also in São Paulo, in December 1983, at Maksoud Plaza’s 150 Nightclub, co-leading a quartet with Eliane Elias that had Harvie Swartz on bass (I wrote a review at that time but now I don’t remember who the drummer was? Victor Lewis?) It was “another sound” once again, different from Mingus Dynasty and Brecker Brothers. What can you tell me about that period?

Randy: Well we were working a lot together then, so the Brazilian flavor was very evident...we influenced each other a lot, and yes the drummer was indeed the great Victor Lewis. We also did a fusion album together for Sonet.
Arnaldo: I also love the solo albums you recorded for Sonet and Denon in the late 80s, featuring your challenging compositions. Please tell me more about those bop-oriented records.

Randy: Both were acoustic dates, hard-bop. "In The Idiom" was fun to do live in the studio, no overdubs, with my heroes Joe Henderson, Ron Carter, Al Foster and the young but great Dave Kikoski who I had heard playing with Roy Haynes. Then we did "Live at Sweet Basil" for the Swedish label Sonet, also great with Bob Berg, Kikoski, Dieter Ilg and Joey Baron. Really really FUN! We actually were a touring group at the time. That album was released in the USA on the GNP Crescendo label.
Arnaldo: The first time I heard you singing was on the “Toe To Toe” album. When did you sing for the first time ever? And on records? It’s a coincidence that some trumpeters - from Chet Baker to Claudio Roditi - like to sing? Better: your decision to sing was inspired, in some way, by Chet?

Randy: I'd been singing on records since the second ‘Dreams’ record for Columbia in 1971, "Imagine My Surprise." Will Lee was supposed to sing that song, but he was playing bass, so I did the ‘work vocal’ since I had written the tune and lyrics, and everyone liked it! Then I started writing lyrics to all my tunes like Horace Silver did, and would write and sing one or two tunes on the Brecker Bros or my solo records… nice to take a break from the playing the horn which is a good reason why a lot of trumpet players sing! And yes I liked Chet, Bob Dorough, Mose Allison, Dave Frishberg and singers like that. Yes, trumpet players like to sing because then we can rest our tired ‘chops’!
Arnaldo: I like your rap (as Randroid) on the Brecker Brothers Reunion Band? When Randroid was born? Do you listen to rap and hip-hop albums?

Randy: Well, Gary Bartz gave me that name in Japan where we were touring together. He would amble over early in the night, look into my eyes and say: “Randroid are you in there yet? No? OK I’ll come back and talk to you later!”…then after a couple of rounds later in the night: “Randroid you’re in there! C’mon let’s hang!!” And yes hip-hop is an influence but I can’t say I follow it that much, just the really exceptional rappers who are also musicians like Kendrick Lamar.
Arnaldo: We all know you did hundreds of sessions as sideman. I always liked your solo on a track titled “Morocco” from an album that my late friend Yusef Lateef recorded for CTI (at Van Gelder) in 1979. When I produced a CD compilation titled “CTI Acid Jazz Grooves”, in 1998, I’ve included “Morocco” mainly because of your perfect solo. Do you remember that?

Randy: Sorry, don’t remember that one. Usually the artist wasn’t there and there were A LOT of sessions, so they would all run together…They were always great tho’! Great musicians, great arrangers and the great studio!
Arnaldo: Rudy Van Gelder was my favorite engineer ever. He left Earth recently. Could you please share some stories that you lived at his mythological studio?

Randy: You couldn’t touch anything or he would kill you… Once [trumpeter] Bernie Glow’s earphones were too tight so he bent them and they broke in two! Rudy was fuming but it couldn’t quite say anything because it was ‘Bernie Glow’ But the next day he wrote DO NOT BEND HEADPHONES on each one!
Arnaldo: One of my favorite jazz videos ever is that CTI project “Chroma: Music On The Edge”. I have attended some of the rehearsals at SIR Studios in NY, in October 1990. It was filmed in Japan when that band toured her under the name of CTI Superband. Some months later, before the LaserDisc release, I watched the video when Creed Taylor showed it to me at the CTI office in April 1991, and I remember how he praised your solos and also the Bob Berg solos. How did you became involved on that project? Do you think Berg was in the same style of Michael Brecker?

Randy: I was working a lot for Creed and Jim Beard, and they probably put the band together. Mino Cinelu, Dennis Chambers, Mark Egan, Mark Ledford, Bob Berg, Mike Stern, Jon Herington. Great band! I had already been playing with Berg a lot. We had a quintet that went to Europe a few times and eventually recorded "Live at Sweet Basil." He and Mike practiced together a lot, but he had his own sound and was great too. We miss him...I live out where he lived in East Hampton so we were very close to him and his family.
Arnaldo: Jim Beard, whom I consider a genius, was the Chroma arranger. I know he played with you on "Toe To Toe," that I had the privilege to hear with you in advance in Sao Paulo, back in 1989. When did you work with him for the first time? How did you met him?

Randy: Don’t quite remember... probably some CTI stuff. We went to the same school Indiana University at different times, he’s also from Philly and he was the’ hot new cat in town’ - so we were destined to meet! Jim Beard did a great job producing "Toe to Toe" for MCA, with Bob Mintzer, Bashiri Johnson, Victor Bailey, Darryl Jones, Regina Belle... We had the same manager, Christine Martin, so maybe she was involved in introducing us. I think he is a genius too.
Arnaldo: Speaking of CTI, your latest project for Creed Taylor was that CTI All Stars Tour in 2009. Who invited you? Creed himself? Were you familiar with those tunes from classic albums by Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine? Have you watched the Blu-Ray that was released from the Montreux concert? Van Gelder did a gorgeous mix!

Randy: Creed indeed invited me himself along with Niels Lan Doky who helped put that tour together, and it’s a very nice Blu Ray disc, with Hubert Laws, Airto, Flora, Todd Bashore, Mark Egan, Jeff Watts, Bill Evans. George Duke, John McLaughlin and Jamie Cullum sat in. The very first night with little rehearsal! Really no rehearsal - we had just flown over and we were too tired to rehearse! Yes, I was familiar with the classic Freddie-Stanley records! Tried to keep them in mind during the concerts! A lot of stuff we were supposed to play didn’t work out for one reason or another….it was all last minute! Rudy was the best as far as sound and mixing! There will never be another like him.
In the second part of this interview, to be published next week, Randy Brecker talks about his most recent albums and tours, his musical marriage with Ada Rovatti, and his next projects. Don't miss!

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