Copland re-emerged in the 80’s as a major jazz pianist noted for his coloristic approach to the piano, coupled with a strong sense of swing. What he has done, among other things, is record two critically acclaimed discs, Stompin at the Savoy and Second Look, both on Denon Records/Savoy Jazz. On the former, Copland displayed a “lush romanticism—the shades of blue he conjures are of particular brilliance,” and with an all-star cast including Randy Brecker, Bob Berg and Dennis Chambers, “the band burned to the finish, making its debut on Savoy something to treasure” (Down Beat, 1996)
His second Denon CD, “Second Look,” featured “a terrific quartet, and sophisticated group interplay with a subtle, yet deeply rooted sense of swing.” (Seattle Times, 1997). The music he created with John Abercrombie, Billy Hart, and Drew Gress was “like watching the wind blow over a lake; you can see the ripples but not the force behind it” (Seattle Post, 1996).
As critic Bill Milkowski described it, “Marc Copland delves into the harmonic fabric of a song the way Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis dives into the swimming pool—with daring, grace and absolute trust in his instincts. He communes with the tune as if in a trance, inevitably coming up with a wholly fresh take on an old warhorse. ‘To me, a tune is like a canvas and harmonies are colors. And I like to be free to put them on the canvas in a way that represents the way I see or hear a tune’” (Jazz Times, 1669).
In addition to his bandleading, Copland works as a sideman with Joe Lovano, Jane Ira Bloom, Tim Hagans, Ingrid Jensen, Ron McClure, and Ed Neumeister, among many others. A graduate of Columbia University, he lives in New York State. When not playing, composing, or teaching music to both professional musicians and small children, he spends his time with his “#1 son,” five year old Darius James Copland.
Randy Brecker’s history is as varied as it is distinguished. Born in Philadelphia to a piano-playing father, Randy spent summers in big band stage camps where he got his earliest experience in ensemble playing. He began playing R&B and funk in local bar bands while in his teens, but at the same time he had an ear for hard bop. “I’d listen to Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Miles’ quintets, Art Blakey, the Clifford Brown/Max Roach group.”
Alter finishing high school. Randy attended Indiana University. In 1966, he moved to New York and one of his first gigs upon arriving was with Clark Terry’s big band. Randy also began his foray into jazz-rock by helping to form Blood, Sweat and Tears. He worked with BS&T for a year and played on their innovative 1968 debut, Child is Father to the Man.
Randy left BS&T to join the Horace Silver Quintet. “BS&T was a very structured situation…I needed to stretch and play jazz.” In 1968, Randy recorded his first album as a leader, Score (re-issued in 1993 on Blue Note), which also featured a 19 year-old Michael on tenor sax.
After Horace Silver, Randy joined forces with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers before teaming up with brother Michael, Barry Rogers, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie to form the seminal fusion group Dreams. The group recorded two adventurous and wildly acclaimed albums – now collector’s items – for Columbia Records before they disbanded in 1971.
In 1973, Randy was back with Horace Silver, teaming up with brother Michael as the front line in Horace’s quintet. By now, the two horn players had become two of the most in-demand studio musicians of the day. The following year, the brothers joined Billy Cobham’s group, and by 1975 they were ready to front their own band.
The Brecker Brothers were to become a band of immeasurable influence and impact. Hailed by pop and jazz critics alike, their first album, which Randy produced, was nominated for four Grammys. The Brecker Brothers went on to record a total of six albums and garner seven Grammy nominations between 1975 and 1981.
In the late 70s. Randy recorded on Charles Mingus’ last album. Me Myself and Eye. Randy has performed with various incarnations of Mingus Dynasty Big Bands and Epitaphs up to the present day.
After the Brecker Brothers parted in 1982. Randy recorded and toured extensively with Jaco Pastorius, recording the famous Word of Mouth album, a live concert in Japan. It was soon thereafter that Randy met jazz pianist Eliane Elias. Eliane and Randy formed their own band. touring the world several times and recording one album together, Amanda for Passport Records. In 1986, Randy produced, arranged and recorded his first acoustic jazz album, In the Idiom, for Denon Records, with Al Foster. Ron Carter, Dave Kikosky and Joe Henderson.
In 1988, Randy recorded Live At Sweet Basil, a live album for Sonet Records at the famed jazz club Sweet Basil in New York with Bob Berg, Joey Baron and Dieter Ilg. Through the end of the 80s Randy toured North America and Europe several times as a leader, as well as touring with Stanley Clarke’s Jazz Explosion. In 1989, he performed a sold out week at the Albert Hall In London with Eric Clapton.
The 1990s began with Randy on tour with the Mingus Dynasty/Epitaph. He also recorded and co-produced his third album as a leader. Toe To Toe, for MCA/Impulse in 1990. And in 1992, exactly ten years after they disbanded, Randy and Michael joined forces again in a much heralded reunion featuring a world tour and the triple-Grammy nominated GRP recording, The Return of the Brecker Brothers.
In the fall of 1994, the Brecker Brothers released the double-Grammy winning Out of the Loop, with tours that followed into 1995 throughout the U.S. and Europe. A tour highlight, they were the first international contemporary jazz group to perform in the People’s Republic of China, playing to sell-out crowds in Beijing and Shanghai.
Branching out again in 1995, Randy toured Japan as a special guest with Stanley Turrentine and, as a leader, was one of the first Western jazz artists to tour for several weeks throughout Poland. Most significantly, he began recording his first solo album in six years with a band of musicians assembled from different parts of the globe, including long-time friend and musical cohort David Sanborn. guitarist Adam Rogers from Lost Tribe, Brazilian vocalist Maucha Adnet (singer with the late Jobim’s band), and bassist Bakithi Kumalo of Graceland fame, among others.
In 1996, drawn to and inspired by the music of Brazil since his first visit there in 1979, Randy offered up his impression of Brazilian music mixed with pinches of Latin, world music, funk and Jazz on Into the Sun. Released first in Japan on Pony Canyon, it is available on Concord Records in the rest of the world and won Randy his first Grammy as a soloist in 1998 for “Best Contemporary Jazz Performance.” A live concert of the music from the album was filmed by Japanese television station NHK and broadcast in 1997. Randy closed the year on tour with the Mingus Big Band across the U.S. and South America, and the Carnegie Hall Big Band in Europe. 1998 began with Randy’s appearance on tour as a special guest with Billy Cobham in the U.K. In fact, it was while on stage in London with Billy that Randy first heard the news of his Grammy win. Summer appearances include several reunion concerts with Mark Whitfield and the 11th House as well as a special guest appearance with the Vanguard Orchestra in a Tribute to Thad Jones In Marciac, France. Randy is now planning the recording of a new solo effort.