Randy Brecker 34th N Lex Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Trumpeter Randy Brecker goes for the urban groove on this latest release which teams...

Peter Marsh 2003

Randy Brecker'skept a relatively low profile since the high octane fusion heyday of the Brecker Brothers. While younger brother Mike's barnstorming appearances with Pat Metheny gave him jazz cred, the trumpeter's been content to issue the odd date as leader in between his countless studio sessions.He's atechnically accomplished if slightly anonymous player, and prone to the odd lapse of taste too; his last album took a stab at 'rap' with predictably grim results.

34th N Lex aims for the street too with an impressive line up that includes Dave Sanborn, funkateer trombonist Fred Wesley and brother Mike on tenor. Though the horn charts are despatched with the precision you'd expect, Brecker's chosen to surround them with the kind of bland digi-funk stylings American jazz musicians seem to think are contemporary. Rinky dink machinerhythms, squeaky clean synths and sampled voices fill every inch of space. Any moments of interest from the horns (Ronnie Cuber's gruff baritone stabs, Mike's burnished lyricism, Sanborn's edgy soloing)are swamped. Funky it's not.

When Randy shifts focus to more acoustic settings things get a bit more interesting. The leader turns out some typically attractive soloing on the fragile "Foregone Conclusion", while "Shanghigh" and "Tokyo Freddie" (the only tune untouched by programming) whip up considerable hard bop and latin tingedgrooves. Meanwhile Sanborn is at his impassioned best on the Bob Berg tribute "The Fisherman".

Unfortunately, these moments only serve to highlight the mediocrity of the rest of the album. This is music more likely to soundtrack a Miami hotel lift than the New York streets that Brecker's aiming for, unless it ends up as the titletheme for some late night cop show. Less than the sum of its parts, by a long way.

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