The Brecker Brothers
The Brecker Brothers

A Podcast Conversation With ... Randy Brecker

There have been few moments when trumpeter Randy Brecker and his late brother Michael haven’t occupied our lives somehow. From Randy and the original Blood Sweat & Tears to Michael’s epic saxophone solo on the Average White Band’s Pick Up the Pieces. Randy has participated on hundreds of recordings from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius, and Frank Zappa.

I recall Randy scurrying around Greenwich Village with a horn under his arm and returning to 21 Jones Street late evenings. A player’s paradise. The Café Wha? The Bitter End, The Café Au Go Go, the many park concerts in Tompkins Square, the jam sessions uptown at Steve Paul’s Scene, and for me, the original version of Blood Sweat & Tears at the Anderson Theatre. A four-piece fronted by keyboardist Al Kooper. I remember the occasion and what was rattling my brain. In my assessment, the unit needed a substantial singer. This person ain’t cutting it. That singer came along—an amalgam of Ray Charles and Wayne Cochran, a blue-eyed soul warrior in Canadian David Clayton-Thomas. A voice suited to hit radio, still straddling the line between street and stage. The guy had cred.

Brecker came by our house on Helena Avenue in July 2000 for a sit-down interview destined for Jazz Report Magazine. The recorded cassette tape sat in limbo for 22 years until technology solved a substantial issue. Brecker was on audiotape, loud and clear, and me, just a wisp. I forgot to plug in a second microphone. Let there be joy; the fix is in. With advances in technology, I’m alive on tape. The interview is a historical document of a gifted musician, his bands, and his position as a sideman with jazz greats Horace Silver and Art Blakely. But first, up, Randy playing the Top of the Senator on Victoria Street, Toronto—the music, the band – then Blood Sweat & Tears, Horace Silver, his first band with brother Michael—Dreams – his solo debut on Solid State, and a second killer band—The Brecker Brothers on Arista Records. This is where we start today on this May's feature podcast.

Leave a comment