Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Randy Brecker with DR Big Band: The Jazz Ballad Song Book

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

This is a lush, cinematic affair with trumpet soloist Brecker backed by the 19-piece Danish Radio Big Band and the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, with Michael Bojesen conducting. The charts-by band members Gerard Presencer, Vincent Nilsson and Peter Jensen plus other Danes and Americans Vince Mendoza and Bill Dobbins-are appropriately symphonic in scope, and Brecker blows powerful, uncompromising, hard-bop-oriented jazz with interesting note choices and resolutions, the only reservation being his occasional tendency to repeat himself in his solos.

Jensen’s arrangement of “All or Nothing at All” opens the set at an aggressive medium tempo that one does not associate with the ballad. Brecker is bright and exuberant in his melody statement and ad-lib choruses; an expectant orchestral fantasia follows, leading to a blustery baritone saxophone solo by Pelle Fridell. The performances of “Cry Me a River,” “Skylark,” “This Is All I Ask,” “The Immigrant/Godfather” (nice string writing by Nilsson) and “‘Round Midnight” convey a more typical jazz-ballad approach with slower tempos and Brecker’s often-ravishing melody statements. “Someday My Prince Will Come” includes an appropriately airy flute passage to set up Brecker’s entrance of the waltz-time melody. Two modern Brecker originals arranged by Mendoza-“Forgone Conclusion” and “I Talk to the Trees”-add emotional variety to the mix along with a jazzy, cooking version of “Goldfinger.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published