Grammy-winning trumpeter/ flugelhorn player Randy Brecker is firmly established in the jazz world as a neo-bop and jazz fusion groundbreaker. The Indiana University graduate of jazz studies under David Baker made his reputation in jazz as a sideman with Art Blakey and Horace Silver and the rock band Blood Sweat & Tears. Along with his renowned brother, tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, a major jazz fusion influence on younger tenor saxophonists in his own right, The Brecker Brothers group was a sensation in the '80s among young jazz fans and musicians with its crossover style.
On Friday, Jan. 20, Randy Brecker will appear in concert at the University of Indianapolis' Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. Supporting Brecker will be some of Indy's best jazz players: Steve Allee, piano; Frank Glover, tenor saxophone; Jack Helsley, bass; and Steve Houghton, drums. I caught up with Brecker in New York before his gig at the Bluenote for this conversation on jazz traditions and transition.
NUVO: Do you think that today's younger jazz musicians are moving away from the jazz tradition?
Brecker: No, I think there is still a healthy respect for tradition. I was just talking to a gentleman in England about my upcoming project to be released over there. We were talking about what's happening and the fact that there are so many young players. A lot of it is due to people like David Baker who are expert teachers and know the history and know how to impart it. I think that a lot of the younger players really know their music and its history of the last century. I think there is a little problem with the business end of it these days and what's happening in the record business, but the young players are just great.
NUVO: Has the fact that the major record labels have backed off their commitment to jazz had an impact on the business side of what artists like you do?
Brecker: It's almost a little too soon to tell, but it wasn't a good harbinger of things to come, unfortunately. What's happening with the record business in general is kind of disturbing. Hopefully it will work its way out in the end. Jazz sales have been hurt in general.
NUVO: Ever since technology made its inroads into music and especially jazz has it had a death knell effect on what's happening?
Brecker: Technology has its place, I suppose. It seems to be if there's any revolutionary things happening in music that's it. It's not my particular cup of tea, although I have experimented with it myself. It has kind of a short shelf life as far as my own workings are involved. All I can say about the whole thing is that I hope people will continue to listen to live music and enjoy music that isn't made by machines.
NUVO: What are your upcoming recording projects?
Brecker: It should be coming out here in the late spring or early summer. It's a project that I did with the WDR Big Band in Europe. This was a special night, a kind of tribute night to my older works and newer works. I had a special guest - my brother - who I hadn't played with in two years and haven't played with since. This recording was done two years ago. They are just now putting it out in Europe.
According to Brecker, other IU music school graduates Jim Beard and Peter Erskine are guests on the SACD, which was also video recorded live for a simultaneous DVD release.
Concert time is 7:30 p.m. in the arts center's Ruth Lilly Performance Hall, 1400 E. Hanna Ave. Tickets are $10 adults, $7 students and seniors.
Jazz in retrospect
It always good to find a new venue offering jazz as part of its operation on Thursdays and Fridays. That's what you'll find at the new Indie Lounge across from the seven screen Keystone Art Cinema theater on the second level of the Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing. A moderate size room holds leather clad booths and mahogany tables and chairs with a full service bar. It's a laid-back setting for jazz. I was warmly greeted like an old friend by the waitress, Novell, and Indie Lounge manager Lori.
Last Thursday I checked out singer Tim Hoover backed up by Ken Fary, keyboards and Jack Helsley, bass. Fary and Helsley opened the evening with an adventurous instrumental romp on the standard "Yesterday." Hoover, whose vocal background is in choral work, showed that he has a great harmonic flair for jazz. He has wonderful articulation, control and feeling for lyrics. Hoover also displayed a keen ear for his backing by Fary and Helsley, who were sensitive, swinging and prodding in their supportive role but came to the forefront with crisp, innovative solos. A highlight was Hoover's moving and warm rendering of "When I Fall in Love." The Indie Lounge has great potential as a stand-alone outing for a cocktail form of jazz from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. with no cover charge.
* Tim Hoover & Friends play Thursdays at the new Indie Lounge across from the Keystone Art Cinema in the Keystone Fashion Mall. Greg Sansing and The Jazz Setters perform Friday, Jan. 20. Music goes 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. No cover charge.
* Cipo, 5252 E. 82nd St. Friday saxophonist Gregg Bacon & Friends groove jazz from 7 to 10 p.m.
* Nicky Blaine's, 20 N. Meridian St. has the pop/jazz of The Four Sexes Monday & Tuesday. Wednesday & Thursday, trumpeter Tommy Mullinix Quartet swings away. Music 9 p.m. to midnight. No cover.
* Cynthia Layne & Friends play Wednesday Jan 18. Goldie & Exquisitely Yours perform Jan. 25 at the Blue Martini, 96th & Gray Rd. Music goes 7 to 10:30 p.m.