Aug 18, 2009
The University of South Florida Center for Jazz Compositionbegan a program to focus attention on the compositions of a great jazz artist while stimulating new works back in 2006. Saxophonist Michael Brecker came on board to assist with the project, but passed away in January 2007 before the project could come to fruition.
Brother Randy Brecker stepped in, and we now have The Comet's Tail, an inspiring large ensemble work presented by the CJC's director Chuck Owens. His group, the Jazz Surge, is aided by soloists like Brecker, guitarist Mike Stern and saxophonists Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman. Brecker compositions receive new arrangements by his former collaborators Gil Goldstein and Vince Mendoza, and international contest winner Fred Stride arranged "Peep", a rousing number that opens the CD.
This is a modern big band sound, and it's always a pleasure to hear that venerable style made more modern. Owens' group shwos off a serious range, particularly on some of the more frenetic moments.
Brecker was an underrated composer, and this CD shows off some of his best material. He was also a killer tenor saxophone player, so it's only natural that some of the best tracks come from two sax legends. Liebman delivers a terriffic solo in "Sumo", a piece from Brecker's Steps Ahead period. Lovano takes center stage on two tracks, the bluesy "Take a Walk" and the dramatic closing piece "Everything Happens When You're Gone".