is the latest CD release from veteran tenorist Michael Brecker
. Like recent efforts by fellow Verve Records saxophonist Chris Potter, Brecker's CD is a break from the mold of traditional jazz quartet/quintet format and a step into the "third stream" mix of jazz and contemporary composition.
Brecker's group is called a "Quindectet" and is an ensemble of fourteen players plus Brecker as the lead instrumentalist and soloist. The ensemble does not function as a big band, but rather as a modern classical chamber ensemble build around a string quartet and with the addition of French horn, oboe/English horn, flute/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet, and trombone, with a rhythm section of guitar, string bass, drums and percussion.
Probably the best way to describe this music is to think of Stan Getz's classic "Focus" session (Getz with a modern string ensemble arranged by Eddie Sauter) but with a bigger array of instrumentation orchestrated by Gunther Schuller or Gil Evans. Unlike the Getz/Sauter session, though, Brecker is the composer or co-composer of all the selections except one - Don Grolnick's "Evening Faces". The effort presented here was arranged by Brecker and Gil Goldstein, and conducted by Goldstein.
Though the accompaniment varies constantly in textures and effects, the strong playing of John Pattituci and Antonio Sanchez keep the group grounded and energized, whether swinging ("Cool Day In Hell"), deep in funk ("Night Jessamine"), or journeying into exotica ("Timbuktu").
If you are a hardcore swing or bop fan, it may take some work to digest the enormous buffet of sounds on this album, but rich instrumental voicings, unique compositions, and intense and passionate playing by Brecker make this an enjoyable and surprising CD.