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UMO Jazz Orchestra with Michael Brecker: Live in Helsinki 1995

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When this stellar archival find was recorded two decades ago, tenor saxophonist Manuel Dunkel was a 24-year-old member of Finland’s UMO Jazz Orchestra and a major Michael Brecker fan. Imagine his elation upon learning that he’d be sharing a stage with his idol for a gig at the Royal Cotton Club in Helsinki. And imagine the nerves he must have felt when said idol suggested during rehearsal that they trade eights on a piece written for the occasion, Kirmo Lintinen’s rather convoluted “Ginare.”

You can hear some of those nerves in the final performance; particularly toward the end of their duel, Dunkel seems wary of getting in Brecker’s way. But Brecker keeps egging Dunkel on, echoing and extending the other player’s lines, honking out his approval. What lingers well beyond any minor flaws in execution is the poignant impression of a master player (gone far too soon, as we all know) encouraging a promising youngster (regarded today as one of his country’s finest jazzmen).

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