Randy Brecker joins all star line-up at Berks Jazz Fest

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For 21st Century Media
As one of the music world’s most sought after trumpet/flugelhorn players, Philly native Randy Brecker is a master of versatility. His signature sound, combined with a flawless ability to perform jazz, be-bop, R&B and rock, has led to collaborations with a spectrum of artists. From Charles Mingus to Bruce Springsteen, to his solo efforts and work with his brother Michael, Brecker’s sound has become a music fan staple.
Brecker’s latest CD/DVD release, entitled “Brecker Brothers Band Reunion” (2013), includes a live concert DVD capturing the group at New York City’s Blue Note as well as an eleven-song studio recording. Alumnae of the Brecker Brothers’ Band, including David Sanborn, Mike Stern, Bill Lee and Dave Weckl, all make guest appearances.

“The Brecker Brothers Band reunion was something I had in the back of my head for a long time,” said Brecker. “I wanted to do something I could dedicate to my late brother Michael and also the other guys in the band that have passed on. I really wanted to do something as a final tribute to them and also just get the guys back together. All of the pieces kind of fell into place. I had a week at the New York Blue Note. They gave me a list of whom they wanted, and everybody I got ended up playing in the band at one time or another. The next thing I know it says on the marquee ‘Brecker Brothers Reunion,’ which kind of threw me for a loop for a second. They talked me into it. In retrospect I think they were right, because the club was packed. We got a lot of great reviews, and it really became kind of an event for a week.”
“It sounded so good we decided to record it as a DVD,” added Brecker. “The next week I corralled the guys together, and we went into the recording studio, and we recorded all the new tunes I had been writing. It came out really well. We had a lot of fun and decided to put it out ourselves, and it’s doing really well on radio and it’s selling. So we’re really happy about that.”
A graduate of Cheltenham High School in suburban Philadelphia, Brecker was exposed to a variety of musical genres, which laid the foundation for his versatility as both a dynamic performer and studio musician.
“That goes back to my Philly roots, where I played with a lot of different bands and a lot of different styles,” recalls Brecker. “My brother Michael and I were allowed to watch American Bandstand. That probably had something to do with it. I heard a lot of African American blues bands. So I was exposed to a lot of things early. When studio work beckoned, in a way we were naturals because we played together for so long we knew the little intricacies and nuances of how to make a phrase sound good as far as using vibrato or not utilizing it — how to make it come alive.”
After attending Indiana University, where he studied music for a time, Brecker moved on to the creatively rich environment of New York City. While enrolled at New York University, Brecker unexpectedly took what he thought was a temporary detour to pursue his dream.
“I was really just trying to finish my college education, and I got sucked into the studio vortex,” recalls Brecker. “There was so much work. People were calling left and right, and I took a little time off from school, and here it is 50 years later. I never went back, which I regret from a learning standpoint and that I didn’t go to a full-fledged music school that had a jazz program. I had to learn a lot of stuff on my own, which I did.”
Brecker appeared on Blood, Sweat & Tears’ 1967 debut album “Child Is Father To The Man.” One year later he released his first solo effort, “Score,” featuring Michael Brecker.
The following decade solidified Brecker’s artistry. After a time with Art Blakey’s “Jazz Messengers,” Brecker and brother Michael formed the fusion group “Dreams” with Billy Cobham, Barry Rogers and John Abercrombie. The quintet released two albums, “Dreams” and ‘‘Imagine My Surprise,” before disbanding in 1971.
Brecker and brother Michael formed the legendary “Brecker Brothers Band” in 1975. Releasing half a dozen Grammy-nominated albums, they enjoyed a successful seven-year run before disbanding in the early 80s.
A decade later, Randy and Michael reunited for a world concert tour and the release of their triple Grammy nominated ‘‘The Return of the Brecker Brothers.” Their 1994 follow-up album, ”Out of The Loop,” fared even better as double-Grammy winner.
Brecker earned the first of his solo Grammy awards with the release “Into The Sun” (1997). Subsequent albums, “34th N Lex” (2003), “Randy Brecker Live with the WDR Big Band” (2007) (capturing his final 2004 performance with Michael before his sudden passing that same year), “Randy in Brazil” (2008) and “Night in Calisia” (2013), all earned Grammy honors.
Brecker is eager to join another all-star line up at this year’s “24th Annual Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest” in nearby Reading, Pennsylvania.
“I’ve played there the last several years,” said Brecker. “It’s always great to go home. As long as I’ve lived in New York, Philly still feels by far like home. I get to see old friends. I have family and a lot of fans in that area. It’s a homecoming for everyone. I’m getting a lot of opportunity to play, so it’s certainly a joy what I’m doing,” he said. “I enjoy playing as much or even more than ever.”
The Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest runs through April 6.

The 2014 Berks Jazz Fest offers hundreds of performances at dozens of venues throughout Berks County during the course of the 10-day festival. The festival runs through April 6. The performances range the breadth and depth of jazz styles.
Major concerts include:
April 3:
Berks All-Star Blues Jam featuring Blues Factor & Friends at Building 24 Live. Tickets: $10
Larry Marshall Quartet at Veasley’s Jazz Base Crowne Plaza Reading. Tickets: $15
Berks All-Star Jazz Jam featuring Chuck Loeb, guitar; Rick Braun, trumpet; Randy Brecker, trumpet; Till Brönner, trumpet; Norman Brown, guitar; Gerald Veasley, bass; Brian Bromberg, bass; Eric Marienthal, sax; Andy Snitzer, sax; Kirk Whalum, sax; Gerald Albright, sax; Jeff Lorber, keyboards; Keiko Matsui, keyboards; Joe McBride, keyboards; and Cordew, drums, at the Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom. Tickets: $45
April 4:
Jeff Lorber Fusion featuring Eric Marienthal, Jimmy Haslip, Lionel Cordew and special guest, Randy Brecker at Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base Crowne Plaza Reading. Tickets: $40
BWB featuring Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, Reading. Tickets: $45
Madeleine Peyroux at the Miller Center for the Arts. Tickets: $45
Ana Popovic plus Steve Guyger & Excellos at the Inn at the Reading Ballroom. Tickets: $39
Dance Hall Docs with special guest vocalists Tom Bowes & Brent Carter at Building 24 Live. Tickets: $25
Lalah Hathaway featuring special guest Rashaan Patterson at the Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom. Tickets: $40
Gerald Veasley’s Midnight Jam at Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base Crowne Plaza Reading. Tickets: $25
April 5:
Nick Colionne and The Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Marcus Anderson at the Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom. Tickets: $40
Allman Brothers Tribute — Craig Thatcher & Mike Dugan at Building 24 Live. Tickets: $23
Terell Stafford Quintet featuring Tim Warfield, Bruce Barth, Dana Hall and Rodney Whitaker at Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base Crowne Plaza Reading. Tickets: $35
WDAS/JJZ Night with Peabo Bryson, Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot and Brian Simpson at Scottish Rite Cathedral. Tickets: $49
Jazzin’ Up the Pops — Keiko Matsui and the Reading Pops Orchestra at the Miller Center for the Arts. Tickets: $40
Shemekia Copeland plus Albert Cummings at the Inn at Reading Ballroom. Tickets: $39
The Original Groovemasters at Building 24 Live. Tickets: $20
Candy Dulfer at the Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom. Tickets: $40
Gerald Veasley’s Midnight Jam at Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base Crowne Plaza Reading. Tickets: $25
April 6:
Sunday Gospel Blues Brunch with the Alexis P. Suter Band at the Inn at Reading Ballroom. Tickets: $40
Sunday Jazz Brunch Gerald Veasley presents Generation Next featuring Julian Vaughn, Nicholas Cole, Lin Rountree, Lebron and more at the Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom. Tickets: $40
Jazzin’ Up the Pops — Keiko Matsui and the Reading Pops Orchestra?at the Miller Center for the Arts. Tickets: $40
Gospel According to Jazz IV Celebration with Kirk Whalum. Oleta Adams, Rick Braun, Gerald Veasley, Kevin Whalum, John Stoddart and the DOXA Gospel Ensemble. Tickets: $49

For a complete schedule of all shows at venues large and small and ticket information go to www.berksjazzfest.com


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