Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dearborn Station: Randy Brecker with the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

After our recent, lengthy profiles on Clark Terry and Joe Morello, respectively, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles thought it might be fun to kick back with some shorter postings centering around music that we have been listening to in recent weeks.

The first of these is Dearborn Station: Randy Brecker with the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble which was released on February 10, 2015 by Graham Carter on his Jazzed Media label [CDJM1070].

Graham is constantly doing wonderful things on behalf of the music and this recording represents his latest effort. You can find out more about Graham and Jazzed Media by visiting his website -

You can also preview all of the songs on the CD at by searching under Randy’s name and you can also buy the CD or download Mp3 files on Amazon and other online and retails sites.

As usual, Graham sent along his usual informative and descriptive information in support of his latest release.

“A dynamic and brilliant performance by jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker with the acclaimed DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, beautifully captured in a "live" recording at Chicago's legendary Jazz Showcase. Impressive arrangements and an electric performance combine to create a recording of note.

1.   The unparalleled intensity and swagger of featured trumpet soloist Randy Brecker combines with the critically acclaimed DePaul University Jazz Ensemble in a dynamic "live" concert performance at Chicago's legendary Jazz Showcase. The brilliant performance of trumpeter/composer Randy Brecker and the DePaul Jazz Ensemble is beautifully captured, with the audience at the venerable jazz club adding to the electricity and excitement of the moment.

2.   Randy Brecker is featured as trumpet soloist and composer with the exceptional DePaul University Jazz Ensemble. Brecker solos on six selections, demonstrating his brilliant technique and harmonic ingenuity. Particularly notable is the dynamic, up-tempo performance of It's You Or No One, with Jazz Ensemble director/trumpeter Bob Lark and Randy Brecker exchanging heated solo trumpet phrases. Student soloists of note include tenor saxophonists Corbin Andrick and Andrew Janak; alto saxophonists Brent Griffin and J.T. Teichert; pianist Scott Williams; and trombonist Brian Scarborough.

3.   Beautifully crafted arrangements from DePaul students, faculty and alumni, and original tunes by Randy Brecker (Squids & You’re In My Heart). Especially notable are DePaul student arrangers Corbin Andrick (On Green Dolphin Street) and Andrew Janak (Squids), and faculty members Thomas Matta (It's You Or No One; Cathy's Song) and Joseph Clark (Well, You Needn't).

Bob Lark, who directed the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble and produced the recording offered these insights about it in his insert notes.

“Recording music in a jazz club remains a constant source of appeal and integrity. Located in the historic 'Printer's Row' district, the Dearborn Station was once the symbolic and geographic hub of development in Chicago's south loop area. The station began a new life in the mid-1980s as a commercial office/retail center. The past several years, the Jazz Showcase has been housed in the historic Dearborn Station. As the oldest historic jazz club in town (founded in 1947 by Joe Segal), the Jazz Showcase today is the symbolic and geographic hub of jazz in Chicago.

For more than twenty years, The DePaul University Jazz Ensemble has regularly performed at the Jazz Showcase. Dearborn Station, recorded 'live' at the Jazz Showcase by the Jazz Ensemble and featuring guest artist Randy Brecker, is the band's tenth in a series of such recordings at the famed club.

Throughout the years I've gotten to know Randy Brecker through a series of performances with The DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, and involvement with The Great Plains Jazz Camp in Emporia, Kansas. He is an icon, among the greatest jazz trumpeters in the history of the idiom. Randy has been an inspiration to myself and our students through his performance, professionalism, and encouragement. In addition to his brilliant trumpet playing, he has composed many tunes and arrangements representing a variety of musical genres.

Thomas Miller, the engineer for this recording, is to be commended for capturing the natural sound of the band. Painstaking attention to microphone selection and placement, and the mixing of the recorded tracks reveal the excellent musicianship of this excellent engineer. Energy, sound, and presence are transferred from the jazz club to this wonderfully crafted recording.

We begin the recording with Squids, composed by Randy Brecker. This arrangement was created by Andrew Janak specifically for this project. The melodic line alone is a technical challenge, yet Andrew and Randy perform the line with authority. The rhythm section drives the band, and the brass and sax sections respond with a crisp and muscular performance. Randy's solo is virtuosic, and Andrew cuts loose with an assertive, dynamic solo improvisation of his own.

Former Jazz Ensemble member Joseph Clark's arrangement of Well, You Needn't opens with a driving, 'second line' groove played by drummer Rob Dicke. Solos by Brent Griffin and Brian Scarborough display a melodic and harmonic sense that are both playful and cerebral. Of course, Randy Brecker solos with a signature style that defines the tune and spirit of the chart. Clark's dramatic arrangement features plunger-muted effects from the brass and a clever, surprise ending.

On Green Dolphin Street is given a fresh treatment with Corbin Andrick's arrangement. Randy and Corbin perform statements of the melody and solo improvisations that are inspired. The brass and sax section ensemble figures are performed in lock-step with the groove established by the rhythm section.

You're In My Heart is a composition of Randy's, performed here in an arrangement by Rich Shemaria. Woodwind doubles within the sax section and numerous rhythmic shifts are among the many intriguing components of this chart. J.T. Teichert and Randy solo with finesse while demonstrating a fleet technique.

Infant Eyes is presented in a beautiful and harmonically rich arrangement by former DePaul colleague Paul McKee. Randy's clarion trumpet work is inspiring, and featured throughout the chart. Following Randy's solo improvisation is a rich, muscular soli passage by the saxophone section. The arrangement peaks in intensity with lead trumpeter Marques Carroll soaring over a roaring ensemble passage, before Brecker returns with a poignant, final statement of the tune.

My colleague Thomas Matta arranged It's You Or No One, an up-tempo, assertive chart that shows-off the brilliance of the DePaul band's ensemble playing. Solo improvisations and exchanges are heard from myself, and then Randy. Tom's arrangement builds to a strong, swinging conclusion.

The beautifully crafted arrangement of Cathy's Song is also by Thomas Matta. It's a nice vehicle for showcasing the band's subtler side, beginning with a warm and harmonically rich saxophone section soli. Bobby Lark's warm flugelhorn tone and lyrical sense shape the melody with finesse. Guitarist Lee Rothenberg plays a solo improvisation that lends itself well to the tune while showcasing his rich, jazz vocabulary.

Tina's Glass Nickel Is an original work by DePaul student Rich Palys. The arrangement is imaginative and challenging, producing counter-lines that complement the melody. Ensemble passages reveal the band's ability to play with nuance and attention to swing style. Substantive and engaging solos are played by Scott Williams, Brett Balika, Marques Carroll, and Rob Dicke.

Frank Foster's Blues In Hoss’ Flat concludes our album. It is a jazz classic and epitomizes the swinging blues charts of the Count Basie Orchestra. Solos by Gibron Lockhart, Michael Brawley and Chris Shuttleworth display a bit of swagger, and pianist Scott Williams' solo pays appropriate homage to Basie himself. Our band loves to play this arrangement, and the closing ensemble choruses are pure, swinging, fun!

What is apparent throughout this recording is the result of inspired students performing with a celebrated soloist in a classic jazz venue. We were privileged to perform with Randy Brecker at the Jazz Showcase. We hope that you enjoy this recording, the fruit of our efforts.

- Bob Lark January, 2015”

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