Fans of cowboy pictures know that great gunslingers always return to the ranch. So it was not unexpected news earlier this year when Randy and Michael Brecker, two of the best instrumental talents in the business, decided to reunite their influential jazz-funk fusion band, the Brecker Bros.
GRP Records had the privilege of issuing “Return of the Brecker Brothers,” but the live crowd here at the Strand was equally delighted with the band, which retains the power and speed that made the Breckers legends among horn players.
It’s been 10 years since the Brecker breakup, a time spent in solo careers, touring (Michael spent 15 months with Paul Simon), studio work (the brothers have appeared on over 1,800 recordings collectively and individually) and producing.
But the time off has done little to diminish their legend, as evidenced by the knowledgeable response from the capacity crowd at the Strand.
The Brothers kicked off the second of two shows on this night with a shot from the new album, “Above and Below,” quickly establishing that they retain their love for funky, fast and furious explorations.
Though at times the band seems to offer the best and worst of jazz funk — some of the solos extend beyond the point of interest — there’s no denying that both Randy and Michael have continued to grow musically. Also worth noting was the guitar work of Atlantic recording artist Mike Stern, whose range extended from introspective new age nuances to raging heavy metal.
Michael’s use of saxophone harmonics on the Brecker classic “Some Skunk Funk” was an awesome display of the still developing techique, Brecker showing he’s close to getting claiming for himself. Randy stayed low key for the second show, perhaps having blown his chops out earlier in the night, although he did offer a taste of heavy metal bebop on his own composition, “Sponge.”
The regular show ended with the extended “Song For Barry,” which featured recorded tapes of voices and Michael Brecker on the Akai EWI, an electronic wind instrument that Brecker used to simulate several textures.