Brecker Brothers Reunion Band brings more than funk
There is far more to the Brecker Brothers Reunion Band than the funk of its original days in the 1970s.
Oh, certainly, the band still specializes in the horn-happy pop jazz of those days. Trumpeter Randy Brecker closed the first concert at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild April 12 with "Some Skunk Funk," a virtual theme song for the band. He said it is a song "everybody expects at a Brecker Brothers concert."
But the band also did a reflective "Elegy for Mike, " dedicated to the other Brecker, virtuoso saxophonist Michael, who died of leukemia in 2007. It also did a new song, "The Slang," which had a slightly newer funk tone to it.
It also works with the saxophone and clarinet work of Ada Ravotti, Randy Brecker's wife, who does well in the unpleasant role of taking Michael's place.
The band on this tour has a few other changes as well. Mitch Stein sits in on guitar for Mike Stern, who is touring with John Scofield and was with him at the guild April 6. Keyboard-singer Oli Rockberger provides a multifaceted role at the keys, and even a voice that hints the style of Sting in songs.
Ravotti might play the most important new role, though. Taking the place of Michael Brecker is an unenviable task, but she does well with good speed and a husky tone on tenor that commands attention.
Her clarinet work, though, might be her best aspect. On Rockberger's "Merry Go Town," she offered a solo on clarinet that had the tone of an alto or tenor saxophone solo on a rhythm and blues piece. It was far from what many clarinet players says, yet filled with beautiful dark-wood sound.
Drummer Rodney Holmes, guitarist Mitch Stein, and bassist Neil Jason also were strong throughout the night, with Holmes offering a powerful solo on a song Michael Brecker wrote, but had fallen to the wayside, "Bathsheba." It is a good piece and worthy of the band's revival.
Of course, none of this mentions the work of Randy Brecker, who had a good stage presence as a leader and front man, but more importantly, plays with power, taste and speed.
He offered many solos using pedal devices that greatly changed the sound of his trumpet, making it into a brass version of the hybrid Electronic Wind Instrument, which Michael often played.
It is sad not to hear the purity of his trumpet work, but his play in any way gets the job done.
The Brecker Brothers Band definitely had a niche audience, and the reunion band might widen that niche.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- PSO ends year’s Grand Classics with Viennese masters
- For broadcaster Lee’s fans, Pittsburgh rock awards a waiting game
- Adele shines on ‘25’
- Pittsburgh Symphony celebrates Thanksgiving with memorable ‘Waltz Tradition’
- WXXP listeners, artists to recall ’80s indie-rock days at reunion show
- 1D wins big at AMAs, Dion pays tribute to Paris victims
- Isaak doesn’t leave his wheelhouse, but it still sounds good
- Guest Pittsburgh Symphony conductor tackles Smetana work with ease
- Rocker Pink added new hue to City and Colour’s sound
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra offers own tradition with ‘Waltz’
- Violinist, pianist join for evening of sonatas at Carnegie Music Hall