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Greetings jazz enthusiast, I hope everyone has a safe, wonderful and prosperous Labor Day Weekend. Trumpet legend Randy Brecker of the famed Brecker Brothers is my featured artist for the weekend spin this holiday weekend. His second effort 34th N Lex on German based label ESC Records is my favorite solo project by him. Enjoy and do have a blast this weekend. —Rob Young | The Urban Flux

Randy Brecker - 34th N Lex

Randy Brecker -][- 34th N Lex – [ESC Records, 2003]

[Originally Reviewed in 2003]:

I’ll must admit, I haven’t been the biggest fan of the trumpet as lead instrument. Frankly, I found the tone imposing and quite abrasive at times. However, after having a few informative conversations, I promptly returned to the music room with a few borrowed copies in hand by Miles Davis, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, and Lee Morgan and most recently, I was introduced to a phenomenal trumpeter named Kenny Dorham.

After this rejuvenating experience, I’ve changed my mind. Therefore, I’ve succumb to the reality that jazz isn’t the same without the lineage of the aforementioned artist as soloists and headliners. Recently in my quest to discovered new music my thought process was redirected to trumpeter “Randy Brecker’”, his name strategically woven within a list of new projects with a cleverly titled record called “34th N Lex”!

The players: Michael Brecker and Ada Rovatti ~ Tenor Saxophone, David Sanborn ~ Alto Saxophone, Ronnie Cuber ~ Baritone Saxophone, Fred Wesley and Michael Davis ~ Trombone, Adam Rogers and Chris Taylor ~ Guitar, Chris Doky ~ Bass, Gary Haase ~ Bass and Programming, George Whitty ~ Keyboards and Programming, Clarence Penn ~ Drums, Zach Danziger ~ Drum Programming, Makeeba Mooncycle ~ Voice, J Phoenix ~ Vocals and Randy Brecker ~ Trumpet and Flugelhorn.

The opener and title track “34th N Lex” positioned itself with the right formula in the lead position a true indication in the direction “34th N Lex” will take you musically. The tonal exchange in the horn section featuring (Randy B., D. Sanborn, M. Brecker and R. Cuber) is reminiscent of the earlier Brecker Brother recordings, boppin’, swingin’ and groovin’ topped off with a cup of tasty funk!

In the second spot, Randy’s ears are penned to pulse of the streets with hip-hop influenced groove called “Streeange” (strange) featuring Makeeba Mooncycle chatting voice interweaving with Randy’s muted trumpet challenges but never deviates from this provocative groove.

Shanghigh” drops in next position with a hip groove charted by Brecker, he raises the scale a bit with piercing notes and driving rhythms by his sidekicks clearly jams without haste while boppin’ into a mood swing kind of groove. Keyboardist George Whitty infiltrates the set with a sonic yet timbre solos on the keys with define purpose!

Brecker’s approach to his horn maintains the groove with a mid-tempo piece called “All 4 Love” features vocalist J Phoenix illustrates why jazz and Neo Soul kinship flows rhythmically and harmonically without blunder when properly executed.

Let It Go” is another signature jam by Brecker with his journeymen blowing infectiously adding color with a hint of funky additives sliced and diced with vocal effects by Gary Haase & the GH Vocal Machine serves up a near perfect musical antidote.

Brecker changes gears at the 6th slot featuring the flugelhorn and trumpet solos on a cut titled “Foregone Conclusion”. He continues to cultivate the untamed while the tenor horn of brother Michael expressively compliments this piece with another fruitful exchange of musical ideas.

Hula Dula” takes flight while under the raging flame of the churning brass section featuring Randy Cuber’s baritone executing fluid tonality burning each note one click at a time inducing Brecker’s trumpet into a rasp fiery!

At the 8th spot, Randy keeps the jazz groove going with “The Fisherman” (which is dedicated too the late “Bob Berg”) featuring the talents of alto saxophonist David Sanborn. After listening too this track, I was casually reminded what contemporaryjazz is all about, engaging and inspiring music that’s accessible and inclusive without being boring.

Brecker’s relentless obsession with the groove demonstrates his uncanny ability to never “Give It Up”. Meanwhile, the unison of contemporaryjazz (s) most wanted horn players collectively grabs your attention with an inviting solo by legendary trombonist Fred Wesley (of the JB’s) who creatively expresses harmony amongst the giants in contemporaryjazz.

Coming in at the ten spot on 34th N Lex, the music unveils jazz within itself with a sudden burst of vamping chops called “Tokyo Freddie”, this 4 plus minute surplus of musical energy adds fuel to the fire without hesitation.

In last spot tenor saxophonist Ada Rovatti burns the cold steel on a track titled “The Castle Rocks”, Randy extrudes soulfully while enhancing keyboardist George Whitty into a percussive latitude with an Island flavor penetrating grooves overlapping the textured funk of the synthesized basslines.

Randy Brecker has simply outdone himself with “34th N Lex” (solidly compliments his two previous recording “Hangin’ In The City and Into The Sun). If you’re looking for jazz with passion and abundance of energized musicianship with a touch of classic Brecker Brothers horns topped off with rhythmic grooves you’ve found the right record, don’t hesitate buy it!

Reviewed by Rob Young