Randy Brecker With the Jeff Stitely Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Randy Brecker With the Jeff Stitely Quartet 

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Trumpeter Randy Brecker belongs in the top echelon of modern jazzmen. When you really listen to his best work, it's difficult to count many trumpeters who do a better job of putting tone and technique to the service of imaginative improvisation. Brecker has a pure, brash tone and an unshackled technique, and he uses them to issue solos that prove both complex and lyrical but also grandly eruptive, in the tradition of Dizzy Gillespie. And having performed with bands led by such vital historical figures as Horace Silver and Thad Jones--as well as the jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat and Tears as its original trumpeter--he knows about all one could hope to know about playing jazz in the last years of the 20th century. Yet few people really listen to his best work. His years as a top-drawer studio man may have interfered with his image as a solo sharpshooter; and even when he and his sibling saxophonist Mike scored big hits with their band the Brecker Brothers, the attention quite correctly fell on their spandex-slick sound and bodacious funk grooves rather than their improvising skills. But with the decline of Freddie Hubbard, and at least until Roy Hargrove takes his game to another level, few others so clearly uphold the storied trumpet tradition that reaches back past Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown to Gillespie and Roy Eldridge. Brecker's Chicago date finds him fronting drummer Jeff Stitely's acclaimed quartet; the matchup with that group's guitarist, John McLean, should prove especially fruitful. Sunday, 9 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.

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