The Brecker Brothers | Sneakin’ Up Behind You: The Very Best of the Brecker Brothers (Legacy/Arista)

When the duo is on fire, as they are on the blazing title track, the results are simply stunning.

 


Odds are if you heard a horn on an album from the 1970s or '80s, it was played by a Brecker brother. Saxophonist Michael Brecker and his trumpeter brother Randy were omnipresent session men throughout those two decades, their malleable styles able to adapt to straight-up pop from Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor or the funk of Bootsy's Rubber Band as easily as jazz greats like Bob James, Pat Metheny, and David Sanborn, all of whom the Brecker brothers ably assisted.

While the pair soared as sidemen, their albums as the Brecker Brothers also established them at the fore of the emerging jazz fusion movement, a melding of traditional jazz with rock, R&B, and funk influences. Sneakin' Up Behind You collects some of the finest tracks from their late '70s and early '80s heyday. When the duo is on fire, as they are on the blazing title track, the results are simply stunning. As time went on, the arrangements could become bland and pandering ("Threesome," for example, sounds like the background music to a cheesy '80s sitcom or the closing theme to Saturday Night Live), but even when the songs don't fully bring the funk, they're still musically inventive enough to be interesting, and the solos remain downright jaw-dropping. "Funky Sea, Funky Dew" brings some ELO-styled strings into the mix, while "Tabula Rasa" features some hot percussion, but it's Michael Brecker's downright sick soloing on both songs that really brings home the skills of these two titans of jazz.

RIYL: Tower of Power, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman Elastic Band

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