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Randy Brecker: - You can tell who has put in the time

Musicians' Corner meets Randy Brecker

Randy Brecker

An article with Randy Brecker  Photos: John Abbott


Music to me is a combination of sound, rhythm, melody and harmony – and I guess we have to add technology too now – organized by a human.

People are programming AI to compose and arrange music in the future. I’m not a fan of that as you can imagine.

It meant everything to me to grow up in an artistic family. My mother was a painter and an artist, my father a wonderful musician, my sister is a pianist and harpist, and then there was of course my brother. We had a family band, and we grew up with music, art and creative thinking before we even knew it was the case. Now my wife Ada is a saxophonist, and both my daughters are singers and instrumentalists.

I was exposed to a lot of great musicians in Philadelphia. I had it all at my fingertips there.

When I started out as a professional I was so young, and I just wanted to play. I did a sixteen week tour of Asia in 1966, and spent time in Europe that same year, where I met a lot of artistic people. We were all in our early 20s. I took part in a jazz competition in Vienna where Art Farmer, Cannonball Adderley and Ron Carter were some of the judges. After that I moved to New York and enrolled at New York University. My goal was to be a freelance musician in New York, and I immediately got work, with Clark Terry and Mel Lewis – and shortly after that with Blood, Sweat & Tears, for which Fred Lipsius was in charge of the horn arrangements.

The legacy of the Brecker Brothers is heart-warming and embarrassing at the same time. People come up to me and tell me how much the music meant to them, and it’s amazing that people still want to hear the music forty – forty-five years after it was first made, but I’m still just learning how to play.

Brecker Brothers live in Barcelona

I usually remember the projects the best where we had to fish something out quickly, out of all the projects I have been involved in.  For example, when we came to record Bruce Springsteen’s ‘10th Avenue Freeze-Out’ there was sheet-music put up, but it was empty. We had to come up with something, and in the end Steve Van Zandt saved the day and gave us some lines. I don’t recall much about recording ‘Berlin’ with Lou Reed because the sessions were very well organized. Everything was set there, and we didn’t contribute much. We miss Jaco. He was a tragically fated man, but he could play any instrument and anything he touched turned into music. He was our Mozart.

It takes a number of things to be a good instrumentalist. It takes God given talent. But the bulk of what it takes is spending time in the practice room. It takes the dedication to spend the tens of thousands of hours in there that it requires. You need to learn your instrument and your language. And you can tell who has put in the time. Composing is also an element in shaping an instrumentalist. If someone has the perseverance the talent will come through and something is bound to happen.

Randy Brecker with UMO and Mats Holmquist

This year I am doing a lot of projects. As for records there is one release with the Umo Jazz Orchestra and the Swedish composer Mats Holmquist, and one with the NDR Orchestra in Hamburg. There was also a DVD/CD-pack released two weeks ago with the Randy Brecker Quinted live from 1988, featuring Bob Berg, David Kikoski, Dieter Ilg and Joey Baron – and I am recording my wife Ada Rovatti’s music for a forth release. I will also be touring Europe, Asia and the USA, and co-leading a band with Mike Stern.

The legendary RANDY BRECKER is a Grammy Award-winning peformer and composer, who can look back on a 50 year plus long career, as well as working with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa. The Brecker Brothers is a true trademark in music, and Randy Brecker continues to inspire fellow musicians as he looks forward to a busy and fully booked future.


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Remembering Lou Reed

Musicians' Corner's Quote section quotes artists talking about music, and listens to tunes

Musicians' Corner remembers Lou Reed

Lou Reed, March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013

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A good conversation with Lou Reed

Musicians' Corner's Quote section quotes artists talking about music, and listens to tunes

Recommeding this in depth interview with Lou Reed by Anthony DeCurtis.

Lou Reed, March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013

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Kevin Barnes' Lou Reed playlist

Kevin Barnes shares his favorite Lou Reed playlist

Kevin Barnes

of Montreal was on the last playlist created by Lou Reed on Spotify:

Lou Reed & Hal Willner's New York Shuffle - April 14, 2012

We Will Commit Wolf Murder and Spiteful Invention from of Montreal's album Paralytic Stalks were added January 29th 2013. This was the last time that songs were added to the list, which has the same name as the radio show that Lou Reed and Hal Willmer did together. Kevin Barnes, who fronts of Montreal, has now made a playlist of the Lou Reed-songs that he currently listens to the most, for Musicians' Corner.

   I didn't really process this yet. Imagining him listening to my songs seems surreal. I can't believe it.

   We were in New York that day... We played 'Waiting for the man' that night.

   These are the songs that I would put on my Lou Reed-playlist right now. These and all other songs by him really....   


    /Kevin Barnes

of Montreal saluting Lou Reed on stage in October of last year:

"Someone I loved very much died today. Anyone with a heart and a brain loved him too."
- Kevin Barnes at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, NYC

Lou Reed, March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013. We miss you.

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Svante Karlsson talks about Junior Dad

Svante Karlsson writes about 'Junior Dad'

One of the most breathtaking and hauntingly beautiful moments in music during the last few years.  Lou Reed ''Junior Dad'' live in Dresden in 2012, with a surprise firework.

Svante Karlsson:


  - I will never see or hear anything the same way after this

Svante Karlsson

        Svante Karlsson writes about "Junior Dad". Photo Jonas Westring

  - When I first heard ''Lulu'' I was slightly disappointed. It was an experience that tore me up a little. But then there was ''Junior Dad''. At the very end. I had already heard from my friends that it was the song to really listen to on the album, but of course I played the entire thing. Needless to say I always listen to a Lou Reed album start to finish. No shortcuts.

  ''Junior Dad'' hit me hard. The seven-eight minutes at the end was a haunting soundspace. I interpreted that bit like it was Lou Reed saying ''Turn this off when you're done. I have said what I wanted to say.''. Those seven-eight minutes could just as well have been forty minutes if there had been space for that on the disc. It was how I perceived it, as a space to think in.

  The King of one-liners, Lou Reed. ''Junior Dad'' almost instantly struck me as something that could very well be the magnificent grand finale to a legendary career. The song made me sad and happy at same time. It describes a dream-like scenario as well as the awakening from a dream. The rhythm of the drums, the dramatic start/stop fills -- it sounds like reoccurring heart-failure. I don't think that he wrote ''Junior Dad'' for ''Lulu''. I think that he added this song to close that album. Then I saw the live-version...


  The song was on my mind as I went to Copenhagen on June 18 2012. I was convinced that it was the last chance to see Lou Reed live for people in Scandinavia. Overall it was an amazing gig. And, at the very end - before the encores - there was ''Junior Dad''...

  A few naked chords for the most part, tai chi and spoken words. And he knew which chords to put behind his words to bring mist to the crowds' eyes. Electric violin. Poetry. A moon rising on the backdrop, just as the drums had pounded their way to the end. Complete brilliance.

  I was so taken by that moment that I didn't know what to do. It was the most astounding moment that I have ever experienced at a concert, and I told myself ''I am hearing this right now. This is it. This is as far as any artist will ever take a live-experience. I will never see or hear anything the same way again after this.''.


  In his output it became the last song in a way - now that Lou Reed is gone. To think that he could write something like that, possibly knowing that the end was coming closer... It's such a dignified grand finale, still vibrating with creativity at its highest level.

  The closing words echoed in my head as my friend and I left the theatre.

  "The greatest disappointment. Age withered him and changed him. Into Junior Dad".

Svante Karlsson is a singer-songwriter based in Sweden. He has released four studio-albums and a live-album to date, including two albums with his renditions of songs by -- among others -- Bob Dylan and Kinky Friedman, and two albums with his own compositions. Karlsson has also contributed to many other artists' output.

Musicians' Corner asked Svante to write something about his experience of this song, and he kindly agreed to doing so.

Lou Reed, March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013. We miss you.


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Leo Mintek: -We want to honor Lou Reed's wild life and art

A text by Leo Mintek

Leo Mintek

Day of the Dead is a holiday about facing death, looking it in the eyes, laughing at it, and celebrating life while also spending time with the spirits of the dead.  Lou Reed just passed away and we wanted to honor his wild life and art with music. We have therefore made a recording of ''I'm Waiting For The Man''.  Also my father just died last month from a vicious cancer and I was there with him every day as his body withered away and La Muerta came knocking.  I want to honor those who have died with something upbeat, not mourning, but celebrating these short lives we live and with a defiant lively spirit in the face death who is coming for us all some day.  

Leo Mintek/Outernational

Outernational are a band from Brooklyn, New York. They have released three EP:s produced by Tom Morello and the concept-album ''Todos Somos Ilegales''. They are doing things their own way, and in 2013 they have toured in South America and Europe. Right now they are embarking on an Esplanglish Tour in the US and Colombia, during which they will be honoring the great Lou Reed.

Listen to Outernational's recording of ''I'm Waiting For The Man'' on SoundCloud

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Laurie Anderson's obit for her Husband Lou Reed

Musicians' Corner's Quote section quotes artists talking about music, and listens to tunes

''Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature.''

Read the full text here:

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