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October 2001

Randy Brecker
Hangin' in the City
ESC

Randy Brecker takes listeners on a twisted adventure in urban observation on Hangin' in the City. Subtitled "Songs of Rhyme, Reason, Romance and Raunch," our tour guide on this quest is the trumpeter's cab-driving alter ego, Randroid. Randroid raps mechanically and sings with a Dr. John growl, sounding like a typical street jerk while singing the praises of the New York lifestyle ("You get ripped off, work your seat off, then the landlord turn your heat off, but I don't mind") and relationship raunch ("Life is a bootyful thing") to great comedic effect. Though much of this narration is provided with tongue planted firmly in cheek, the playing rocks throughout, with Hiram Bullock, Will Lee and brother Michael Brecker, among others, providing streetwise, hard-bop foundations for the swaggering, sexist camp. As funny as the steamy funker "Then I Came to My Senses" and prickly, dark, atmospheric title track can be, there's a greater draw in some of the album's non-Randroid highlights, like "Wayne Out," the Shorter-inspired funky-fusion ride. "I Talk to the Trees" swings lyrically, with Brecker's awe-struck, long-lined melody playing against bustling bass in a Tangerine Dream-like echo chamber of wraparound effects. "Pastoral (To Jaco)" is another highlight: a nostalgic tribute with wit, as well as reverence, in its shining arrangement.

Originally published in October 2001
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