Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC – Randy Brecker, a Grammy award winning jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist was a special guest at the B Flat Jazz Festival in Milan, Italy last week. Known for his versatility in musical tastes, Randy showed off his blend of hard jazz mixed with funk, Latin, and occasionally soft rock — a style that many young trumpeters try to emulate.
He initially gained prominence in 1967 as a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears on their first LP, Child Is Father To The Man. In the late 1970’s Randy recorded with the highly influential American jazz musician Charles Mingus on his last album, Me Myself an Eye.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1945, Randy grew up outside Philadelphia listening to the Clifford Brown/Max Roach group that included trumpeter Miles Davis, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, pianist Horace Silver, and drummer Art Blakey. His pianist father nurtured and encouraged him to play music at an early age. As a teenager, Randy began playing R&B and funk with local bar bands, and developed an ear for Hard Bop after listening to his father’s music collection. He and his brother Michael later attended Indiana University, and settled in New York to make a name for themselves on the jazz scene.
During four months in 1966, Randy toured the Middle East and Asia as a Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department. His strong musical message won many friends for America. “I hope people concentrate on art and music, and forget about our petty political differences,” Randy told VOA’s Jazz America. “The core of the human heart is universal.” He later toured Eastern Europe when it was still under communist rule.
Earlier this year, Randy Brecker was a special guest on All Over The Place, the new album of one of his favorite collaborators, Mike Stern. He also recorded The Jazz Ballad Songbook, with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra. The album includes two original songs and the rest are well known themes like “Cry Me A River” and “The Immigrant” from the film Godfather 2. The 10-track album also includes “All Or Nothing, ” “Someday My Prince, Will Come ” “Foregone Conclusion, ” “Goldfinger, “Skylark, ” “I Talk To The Trees, ” “This Is All I Ask, ” and “Round Midnight”.
During his career, Randy has played or recorded with a variety of bands and artists including Parliament-Funkadelic, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, and Frank Zappa. He was a member of Larry Coryell’s seminal jazz fusion band The Eleventh House in 1973. He also recorded and toured as a member of Jaco Pastorius‘ Word of Mouth big band. In 2001, Randy reunited with his brother, saxophonist Michael Brecker, for a European tour. The concert series featured an acoustic version of the Brecker Brothers’ music.
For more on jazz music, listen to VOA’s Jazz America