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Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist: Together (MAMA)

Review of the American trumpeter’s collaboration with the Swedish composer and Finland’s UMO Jazz Orchestra

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Cover of Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist album Together
Cover of Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist album Together

Don’t be misled by the billing. Although Randy Brecker’s trumpet is featured throughout this album with Finland’s UMO Jazz Orchestra, the creative force behind the project is clearly composer Mats Holmquist, whose inventive, coloristic arrangements are what ultimately keep Together together.

Take “All My Things,” which somehow finds a common thread between Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are” and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. But having the band deliver Kern’s cycle-of-fifths progression in pulsing eighth-note chords is only half the gag; what marks this chart as truly ingenious is Holmquist’s notion to layer swing time against the decidedly unswinging minimalist thrum, a balancing act the UMO players pull off with surprising grace.

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