Randy Brecker w/ the Orrin Evans trio

Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker has helped shape the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. His trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.

Born in 1945 in Philadelphia to a musical family, Randy’s musical talent was nurtured from an early age. He attended Indiana University from 1963-66 studying with Bill Adam, David Baker and Jerry Coker and later moved to New York where he landed gigs with such prominent bands as Clark Terry’s Big Bad Band, the Duke Pearson Big Band and the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.

In 1967, Randy ventured into jazz-rock with the band Blood, Sweat and Tears, but left to join the Horace Silver Quintet. He recorded his first solo album, ‘Score’, in 1968, featuring a young, then unknown 19 year-old tenor saxophonist named Michael Brecker.

After Horace Silver, Randy joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers before teaming up with brother Michael, Barry Rogers, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie to form the seminal fusion group ‘Dreams’. The group recorded two adventurous and wildly acclaimed albums: ‘Dreams’ and ‘Imagine My Surprise’ – now collector’s items – for Columbia Records before they disbanded in 1971.

In the early 1970s, Randy performed live with many prominent artists including Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House, Stevie Wonder and Billy Cobham. He also recorded several classic albums with his brother under the leadership of the great pianist/composer Hal Galper.

By 1975, Randy and Michael were ready to front their own group, the Brecker Brothers Band. A band of immeasurable impact and influence, they released six albums on Arista and garnered seven Grammy nominations between 1975 and 1981. Their eponymous first record, which Randy wrote, arranged and produced, featured his now classic composition “Some Skunk Funk.”

In 1992, exactly ten years after they parted ways to pursue solo careers, Randy and Michael reunited for a world tour and the triple-Grammy nominated GRP recording, ‘The Return of the Brecker Brothers’. The follow-up, 1994’s ‘Out of the Loop,’ was a double-Grammy winner.

In 1997, ‘Into the Sun’ (Concord), a recording featuring Randy’s impressions of Brazil, garnered Randy his first Grammy as a solo artist.

In 2001, Randy released ‘Hangin’ in the City’ (ESC), a solo project which introduced his alter-ego Randroid, a skirt chasing, cab driving ne’er do well, with lyrics and vocals by Randroid himself. This CD was especially well received in Europe, where Randy toured extensively with his own line-up.

Randy’s next CD for ESC Records, ’34th n’ Lex,’ won him his third Grammy for ‘Best Contemporary Jazz Album’ in 2003. In May of that year he toured Europe with his Quintet in support of the CD, and in the summer went back to Europe yet again with the Randy Brecker/ Bill Evans Soulbop Band.
The summer of 2003 culminated in the special headline appearance in Japan at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival of the reunited Brecker Brothers.

2004 saw Randy touring Europe extensively as co-leader (with Bill Evans) of the band Soulbop. The WDR Big Band also celebrated Randy and his music that year in a performance at the Leverkusen Jazz Fest. The date was of special significance to Randy as it was the last time he played with his brother, who took ill shortly thereafter with a rare form of leukemia known as MDS.

In 2005, with Mike unable to travel to Russia for Brecker Brothers gigs booked there, Randy’s wife Ada sat in for the first time. Randy’s active schedule continued apace with the Randy Brecker Band performing throughout Eastern Europe and across the globe.

In 2007, Randy was awarded his fourth Grammy for “Randy Brecker Live with the WDR Big Band” (Telarc/BHM), the live recording (also available in DVD format) of his performance with Michael at the Leverkusen Jazz Fest in 2004.

Tragically, Michael passed away that same year on Jan 13th.

2007 also saw the release of a 2 CD set of live recordings of the band ‘Soulbop’ (BHM) featuring Dave Kikoski, Victor Bailey, Steve Smith or Rodney Holmes and the late great Hiram Bullock.

Randy returned to his long-time love of Brazilian music in 2008 for the album ‘Randy in Brazil,’ which was recorded in Sao Paulo with a full complement of great Brazilian musicians and released on Summit Records. Chosen one of the top 10 CDs of 2008 by AllAboutJazz.com, the CD won the Grammy for “Best Contemporary Jazz Album,” bringing his Grammy total to five.

A “Tribute to the Brecker Brothers” featuring Randy and recorded live at the Hamamatsu Jazz Festival in Japan with Yoichi Murata’s Solid Brass & Big Band was released by JVC Victor in Japan in late 2008.

And in 2009, Randy’s roots were celebrated with the release of ‘Jazz Suite Tykocin,’ a project initiated and conceived by the Polish pianist and composer Wlodek Pawlik, featuring Randy as a soloist with members of the Bialystok Philharmonic. Tykocin is the area in Poland where Randy’s ancestors (mother’s maiden name: Tecosky) hail from, a fact that Pawlik discovered while helping to search for a bone marrow donor for Michael.

2011 saw the release of ‘The Jazz Ballad Song Book: Randy Brecker with the Danish Radio Big Band and The Danish National Chamber Orchestra,’ which garnered 4 Grammy nominations and enjoyed enthusiastic critical acclaim. And in 2012, Sony Legacy recaptured history with the long-awaited boxed set, “The Brecker Brothers – The Complete Arista Albums Collection.”

A Brecker Brothers Band Reunion tour of European festivals in the summer of 2013 in support of Randy’s newest project, Randy Brecker’s “Brecker Brothers Band Reunion,” re-introduced the familiar faces of Brecker Brothers Band members from the past and their special brand of music to sell-out crowds.

A dual-disc release, Randy’s newest project will be released on September 25th, 2013 on Piloo Records. Randy Brecker’s “Brecker Brothers Band Reunion” features a live DVD recorded at the Blue Note in NYC bundled with a new 11-song studio recording featuring members of the Brecker Brothers bands from throughout the years including Dave Sanborn, Mike Stern, Will Lee, and Dave Weckl. George Whitty is back in the production and keyboard chair, and Randy’s Italian wife Ada Rovatti is in the ‘hot saxophone’ seat, keeping it in the family on tenor and soprano saxophone. The new dual-disc recording will be released in North America by Magenta/E-One, in Europe by Moosicus Records in November and in Japan by JVC/Victor.

A long time in the making, this project is very close to Randy Brecker’s heart. It is dedicated to his brother, Michael, and other departed Brecker Brothers Band members.

As a composer, performer and in-demand Yamaha clinician, Randy Brecker continues to influence and inspire young musicians around the world.

Pianist Orrin Evans takes stock of the pivotal moments that shape the trajectory of a life on The Evolution of Oneself, his scintillating new release on Smoke Sessions Records. The album is itself a landmark in Evans’ musical evolution, introducing a remarkable new piano trio with two longtime associates but first-time collaborators: bassist Christian McBride and drummer Karriem Riggins. The result is a raw and thrilling excursion incorporating a startlingly wide range of influences, from jazz and neo-soul to country and hip-hop.

As suggested by the title, The Evolution of Oneself explores deeply personal terrain, with Evans reflecting on the road he’s traveled to become the man and musician he is today. “This album is about personal evolution,” he explains. “For me, there have been different moments or people in my life that have made me evolve. You can call it change, but ultimately you’re still the same person from the day you came out of your mother’s womb. But you evolve, and that process is what this record is about.”

About Orrin Evans
The Evolution of Oneself explores deeply personal terrain, with Evans reflecting on the road he’s traveled to become the man and musician he is today.

Through 25 albums as a leader and co-leader, including his neo-soul/acid jazz ensemble Luv Park and the bracing collective trio Tarbaby, Evans has always followed a vigorously individual path. The Evolution of Oneself is no exception, with Evans setting a pace that brings out fiery, gut-churning playing from both McBride and Riggins – two of modern jazz’s most renowned and distinctive voices in their own rights.

McBride, of course, shares Evans’ Philadelphia origins, roots that both have taken great pride in over the course of their careers. But despite only a three-year difference in age, they’ve only worked together a handful of times, never on record. Evans met Riggins more than two decades ago, prior to his move to New York; Riggins later stayed with Evans and fellow Philly expat Duane Eubanks in their New York City apartment upon his own move to the city. Still, it wasn’t until a recent tour under Riggins’ leadership that the two shared any significant stage time together. The Evolution of Oneself finally provided the long-overdue opportunity for Evans to collaborate with both of them, forming a powerhouse new trio in the process.

The album is framed by three very different takes on the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein standard “All the Things You Are,” a song which Evans says represents the most important factor in his own personal evolution: his family. The lyrics, he explains, captures the support and devotion that his wife, Dawn Warren Evans, has provided through the ups and downs of a career in jazz. “My evolution is based on the past twenty years with this woman who’s had my back and accepted all the things I am,” he says.

The couple recites those lyrics together over an electronica track produced by their youngest son, Matthew Evans, on the penultimate version. (Older son Miles doesn’t appear, but provided the inspiration for two tracks, “For Miles” and “Tsagli’s Lean.”) The album opens with an up-tempo run through the tune that sets the spirited tone for what is to come, while it closes with a languorous reimagining featuring McBride’s dirge-like bowed bass and the haunting, soulful moan of vocalist JD Walter. 17-year-old Matthew also produced the hip hop-tinged “Genisis” interludes that pepper the album, culled from his home recordings of his father and mixed by bassist/producer Anthony Tidd, famed for his work with both The Roots and Steve Coleman’s Five Elements.

About Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans recording session is always a family affair, with a party atmosphere and guests stopping by whether they end up contributing or not.

While The Evolution of Oneself takes the concept more literally than usual, an Orrin Evans recording session is always a family affair, with a party atmosphere and guests stopping by whether they end up contributing or not. “Being in the studio and doing what I do is no different than a cookout on a Saturday night,” Evans says, and that openness is reflected in the raucous verve of this album.

The date’s other special guest is guitarist Marvin Sewell, responsible for its most surprising moment: the country-blues slide guitar that introduces the traditional Americana folk song “Wildwood Flower,” made famous by the Carter Family. His introduction to the song came via drummer Matt Wilson, and Evans’ rendition is dedicated to Wilson’s late wife Felicia. While one might not expect to hear a country music influence coming from Evans, the beauty of the song is undeniable — and he naturally turns the down-home feel inside out and makes it wholly his own.

Beyond McBride’s involvement, Philly is well represented on the album. The sultry R&B groove of Grover Washington Jr.’s “A Secret Place” offers the chance for both to pay homage to the late saxophonist, who resided in Mt. Airy, the same Philadelphia neighborhood that Evans has long called home. “One of my only musical regrets is not recording with Grover Washington Jr.,” Evans admits. “He was really cool and he lived right around the corner, but at that time in my life I didn’t understand how accessible he was. I don’t think people know how bad he was as a saxophonist, as a musician, and as an artist.”

Evans credits Philadelphia trumpeter Jafar Barron as one of the key players in the development of the neo-soul movement, and tips with hat with Barron’s composition “Jewels and Baby Yaz.” Bassist Jon Michel’s swinging “Sweet Sid” was written in memory of pianist Sid Simmons, a mentor to Evans and countless young Philly jazz musicians.

The album is rounded out by a loose-limbed, sharp-angled take on “Autumn Leaves,” the airy ballad “February 13th” by bassist and fellow Tarbaby member Eric Revis, and a half-dozen Evans originals representing the impressive reach of his stylistic imagination. With this album Evans marks a profound breakthrough in his personal evolution, one that has progressed beyond categories and into the realm of unfettered expression.

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