Mar 12, 2014
Founded in 1954, the Newport Jazz Festival was the first of its kind in America and has been called the "grandfather of all jazz festivals." 2014 marks its 60th year and the Festival is celebrating with a multi-generational tour featuring an all-star band honoring the festival's rich heritage, its significance and the global scope of jazz today. Led by clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen, the ensemble features vocalist Karrin Allyson; five-time Grammy- winning trumpet wizard, Randy Brecker; guitarist Mark Whitfield; and pianist Peter Martin; with Clarence Penn on drums and Larry Grenadier on bass. Ben Allison will spell Mr. Grenadier on some dates.
These sorts of package tours can come off as a little stiff on stage, but the early reviews of the Newport Now60 Band have been stellar, as they all bring compositions to the ensemble, and back each other, as well as solo, with vigor. Many of the top Performing Arts Centers in America will host the show this spring, before the band takes a break and then reunites for Festival season. The Rochester, Montreal, Ottawa and Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival all have them on their lineups for late June gigs, and (of course) the Newport Jazz Festival has them on tap for August.
Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker is a key member of the band, and has helped shape the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. He made his bones as a member of Clark Terry’s Big Bad Band, the Duke Pearson Big Band and the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra before making jazz-rock history with Blood, Sweat and Tears, Dreams and the Brecker Brothers Band. In between, he created hard bop magic with Horace Silver, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and to date has won six Grammy awards for work as varied as Brazilian, Big Band and Orchestral Jazz. Mr. Brecker has established a formidable body of work, and has earned a reputation deservedly as large.
I spoke with Randy about the Newport Now60 band, his next planned CD release (a re-arranged tribute to his pop sideman work from days with Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Todd Rundgren (among others), and his thoughts on past sessions with the likes of Don Grolnick, Gato Barbieri and Al Kooper. Podcast 416 is our conversation including musical selections from his storied career including:
Randy Brecker - "Oriente" from Randy in Brasil.
Randy Brecker – “Really In For It” from Brecker Brothers Band Reunion.
Don Grolnick – “Persimmons” from Weaver of Dreams.
Blood, Sweat and Tears – "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" from Child is Father to the Man.
Chuck Owen & Jazz Surge featuring Randy Brecker and Mike Stern – “Peep” from The Comet’s Tail – Performing the Compositions of Michael Brecker.