Friday, January 18, 2013

Jazz concert review – Randy Brecker

Trumpeter looks back four+ decades in Naples concert

Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker dug deep into his own songbook on January 17 in his second guest appearance with the Naples, Fl-based Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra. It was also a reunion of sorts with tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto (a 25-year veteran of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” Band), who Brecker has known for more than 30 years.

The three-year-old Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra is a sextet with a robust sound and a curious name. It is co-led by Del Gatto and pianist Jerry Stawski, with big band veteran Dan Miller on trumpet, Glenn Basham on violin, Kevin Mauldin on bass and Mike Harvey on drums. With Mauldin and Harvey working next door with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra on the 17th, the band brought in two wonderful subs from Miami – bassist Chuck Bergeron and drummer Goetz Kujack.
Randy Brecker and Lew Del Gatto

The first of two shows was spiced with an array of standards (“Tangerine,” “Falling in Love with Love” and “On Green Dolphin Street”) interspersed with a wide range of original compositions by Brecker.

Two of them written in the mid-to-late 1960s, “Pipe Dream” and “The Marble Sea,” were featured on Score, his 1969 debut recording as a leader, six years before he and saxophonist Michael Brecker (who died in 2007), formed The Brecker Brothers fusion band.

The rolling melody of “Pipe Dream” gave the band something challenging on which to improvise. “The Marble Sea” featured Brecker on flugelhorn with just the rhythm section. He said the breezy tune was inspired by a beautiful beach on the Mediterranean during a three-week stay in Beirut in more peaceful times. Brecker and the sextet also played his tribute tune “There’s a Mingus a Monk Us” and blues “Dirty Dogs.”

The highlight was an extended ballad medley in which each player added a new tune. Bergeron started it with a riveting bass exploration of “My One and Only Love” before it segued into “I Want to Talk About You” (Miller), “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” (Stawski), “What’s New?” (Del Gatto) and “Old Folks” (Brecker). The medley was soulful and seamless.

Brecker displayed his stylistic range throughout the night, saving his intense high-note flurries for his final solo on “Falling in Love with Love.” After the band’s rousing closer, Brecker’s “Dirty Dogs,” NPO concertmaster Basham had to rush across campus, change into his tux and play Mozart.

Randy Brecker and the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra

The sextet features a different national touring artist at its monthly concerts, which run November to June at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts’ 280-seat Daniels Pavilion. The 2012-13 series opened with guitarist Russell Malone in November and featured trombonist Steve Turre in December. Other guests on the schedule include singer Carla Cook, pianist Dick Hyman and guitarist Romero Lubambo. The series winds down with separate showcases of the music of Jerome Kern and Dizzy Gillespie.

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