Box set showcases Brecker Brothers’ brassy influenceWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
To say Randy and Michael Brecker didn’t have a lot of free time in the late 1970s is an understatement.
The brothers jammed, wrote and recorded with superstar Luther Vandross, sax man David Sanborn and keyboardist Paul Schaeffer while forging a path in jazz fusion.
And, oh yeah, they played in Frank Zappa’s band.
“I look at my date books and they were filled,” Randy said. “It was just a very exciting time.”
So exciting that Sony’s Legacy Recordings released “The Brecker Brothers — The Complete Arista Albums Collection.” The eight-disc set hit stores in August.
“I look at these records as really my and Mike’s legacy because we were young and we were really aggressive in a good way and wanting to get our sound out there,” Randy said during a call from his home in East Hampton, N.Y.
The six studio discs and two live CDs showcase shining performances by Randy on trumpet and Michael on saxophone.
Vandross was a guest on the 1976 album “Back to Back” and the 1980 LP “Detente.”
“There were very few second takes,” Randy recalled. “He just had so many ideas, they just flowed effortlessly off his mind; if one thing didn’t work, he’d immediately go to the next idea.”
In 1979, the brothers scored a hit, “East River.” And 1977’s “Funky Sea, Funky Dew” garnered one of the duo’s seven Grammy nominations.
“With the popularity of ‘Funky Sea, Funky Dew’ — it became a lynch pin in our show — I think it roused my brother’s confidence [as a composer] quite a bit,” Randy said. “After that, he started writing quite a bit more, and that certainly is a great tune.”
The two had a great time recording the 1977 album “Zappa in New York.”
“It was wonderful working with Frank. He was such a stickler for details and such a well-organized bandleader. His hippy, disheveled stage appearance was completely an act. He was very organized and knew exactly what he wanted to get out of the musicians,” Randy said.
The trumpet player said the new collection is a nice tribute to his sibling, who died of leukemia in 2007.
“My brother’s influences are not to be underestimated. He influenced thousands of saxophone players with the style he really put together himself,” Randy said. “You can just hear it if you start chronologically from the first record to the last.”
Randy, who was an original member of Blood, Sweat & Tears and appears on the group’s 1968 debut “Child Is Father to the Man,” recently put together a Brecker Brothers reunion of sorts.
“Ten yeas ago, I married a wonderful tenor saxophonist. Her name is Ada Rovatti. We play together in my band quite regularly, and I’ve also been playing with [guitarist] Mike Stern, who played with The Brecker Brothers in the ’90s and [drummer] Dave Weckl, who did a couple tours with us,” he said. “So we ended up calling it Brecker Brothers Band Reunion.
“I wrote a bunch of new tunes and we went in the studio and recorded all the new stuff and also called people like Dave Sanborn and Dean Brown on guitar. There’s going to be a CD and a DVD recorded live at the Blue Note available sometime early next year.”