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




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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What IS music?

 

 

 

 

 

   We are getting close to our first birthday here at Musicians’ Corner. This site, where musicians talk and write about music, opened at the turn of the month October-November last year. At that point the site was empty. But now… In less than a year 44 artists have contributed 47 articles in text, audio and film to the site, Musicians’ Corner has acquired a formidable artist-editor in one of our sections, and shortly we are about to give an award out. It has been an interesting year!

  So many things have been said about music, as an art form, a soundtrack to our lives, a life changer, a profession and career, as a reflection of us as people and a reflection of the times, and as an industry and a business, over this period of time. Many of our contributors have also addressed the same things, the changes in the business being one of the topics that many have spoken of, for example.

 


 

  Today though we recap what has been said on another topic.

What is music to us?

What IS music? In the first place?

 

Find out what 13 of our artist contributors express concerning what music is to them.

 

 



 

BRYAN BELLER: - Music, to me is a sound. To be sure, there is melody, and harmony, and rhythm, and tone, but in the end a collection of musicians will have a collective sound, or what some have called "one note."

 



 

TK BLUE: - Music is spiritual nourishment for the soul. It’s a sacred art that brings all people together, regardless of race, religion, color, sex, or ethnic background.

 




KRIS BOWERS: - Music is everything. It’s how we connect, both to each other and to our own emotions. Music reminds you of certain times and gives you a feeling instantly.

 



 

BEN CAPLAN: - Music to me is like water. It sustains me. I need to sip from it every so often or I feel faint. I need to bath in it to keep my soul clean. It flows over me. It does not flow out of me like a constant river, but if I drink enough of it, it comes back out. I sweat it out. I piss music. It often stinks, and I flush most of it away, but it's always a relief to get it out.

 



 

WILL CALHOUN: - Music is life. It is the things you experience. Life, love, stress, magic moments, moments that go down the drain. It’s no different than life.  I hear music when I’m not playing. I feel life when I play.  Music and spirituality came together in my life. Perhaps I wasn’t aware of the music at first.

 



 

LIGE CURRY: - Music is everything to me. My priorities are my health and my family, but music is my anchor. It keeps me rolling. It’s also a love/hate-thing. The love is the notes, the style, the art. The hate stems from the business side. It’s about how much you are worth.

 




TERENCE HIGGINS: - Music is everything to me. It consumes a lot of my time, I need it like I need air. There is not a day that goes by when I’m not involved in music one way or the other, be it as a working professional or as a listener. It’s life to me. And it has been like that every since I can remember.

 



 

DIDIER LOCKWOOD: - Music is a way of life. It's something I need to expand myself and meet people and cultures. It's my transportation.

 




MAKAYA McCRAVEN: - To me music embodies a wide range of areas. To me music is a social thing. It is a language, and I really believe in music as a language through events. It’s unspeakable emotion that we have a hard time describing in words. That is especially true for instrumental music. We can play music together across language barriers. Music is played at weddings, funerals, celebrations, parties -- to express what we can’t say through words.



 

OZ NOY: - Music is like air really. A lot of us would be dead without it. Our soul will die! It sounds a bit dramatic but it’s true.



 

CHRIS SIMMONS: - Music is a necessary part of life to me, like air and water.  I love to hear it and I love to create it and perform it.

 




MIKE STERN: - On a very serious side music is food for the soul. I don't know what the hell I would do without it. There are times when I don't want to hear anything. At other times I hear music in everything, in the wind, in the traffic, in people talking. And I hear music in how people talk in different places, in India, Japan and throughout the world.


 

LAURA STEVENSON: - Music is the best way for me to communicate exactly how I feel.


 

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Didier Lockwood on the game of music



    Music is a way of life. It's something I need to expand myself and meet people and cultures. It's my transportation.


    I don't think of myself as a musician. I'm more like an artist. To me calling myself a musician feels restrictive.
Music is a game. It's playfulness. The game of music is a game that I love. Seeing music in that light is how I have found the spirituality in music. More and more I think it's a game.


    You cannot lie in music. If you lie you lose yourself.



Didier Lockwood with Biréli Lagrène and Jürgen Attig



    My father was a violin-player, and when I was 6 years old I wanted to play the violin and be like him. He was happy to know that I was happy, but he never said that he was proud of me. He was proud of my success, and felt ashamed by my failures.


    It may be really difficult to be free on the violin. At conservatories we are taught in classical music. We learn to read and write music before we learn to feel it. But I have never been about separating music. Even music that is bad, is bad because it is played badly.



Didier Lockwood with Stéphan Grappelli



    I'm always involved in many projects. Apart from playing with a lot of people in different forms I'm currently writing my 3d violin concert. I paint, and I'm writing a book.


    To me playing music, painting and writing is the same thing. I paint and play. I like philosophy and art, and the philosophy in the arts.



Didier Lockwood with Mike Stern, Tom Kennedy and Dave Weckl




Didier Lockwood's versatile career spans five decades so far, as well as a wide range of genres in music. He has recorded numerous albums. and composed concerts and chamber music.

Find out more HERE

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Guitar-legend Mike Stern talks about his love and joy

Photo Sandrine Lee

 

   If I could have a conversation with Johann Sebastian Bach I would ask him how he wrote all of that amazing music. He had like twenty kids or something. I would ask his wife ''What the hell is he up to?''. He wrote so much music, got so much done, it's insane.

I want to mention my wife, Leni Stern. She is the love of my life. We don't play concerts together because we prefer to stay married but we play music together all the time. She's a wonderful musician, very inspiring. We have been together for thirty-three years and she is my best friend.

I have about twenty black t-shirts with long sleeves. So when I look in my closet I think to myself ''Hmm, what am I going to wear today?''...

I am happy when I'm playing music. I get energy from other musicians by listening and watching them play. It's a great feeling. Music is a great place to put my energy. It keeps my mind off some of the other stuff in life that might not be so much fun

Maybe I'm just showing my joy in the music on stage a little bit more than others. Most people I know have a great time playing music.


Photo Sandrine Lee


    On a very serious side music is food for the soul. I don't know what the hell I would do without it. There are times when I don't want to hear anything. At other times I hear music in everything, in the wind, in the traffic, in people talking. And I hear music in how people talk in different places, in India, Japan and throughout the world.

Guitarists ask me different stuff. Questions about equipment. Picks and strings. I ask other musicians about that stuff too. They ask how I get certain lines. I tell them that I listen a lot. I transcribe a lot of horn-players for example and try to come up with my own version of their lines, that is, not copy the licks but get the phrasings on the guitar.

I don't know when I knew what my sound was. It was something I heard in my head. I started out singing when I was little. My mom was a piano player, and she realized that I wanted to get into music. My sound is a less percussive sound and more of a legato sound.

The best way to find your own voice to me is to just play. It's a natural flow-process. Staying with certain things is a good idea. Perhaps someone is not the best guitarist in the world but he can still be the perfect guitarist for a specific act. A lot of musicians have their own voices though people don't necessarily hear it. I change what I do by learning new music. Always try to learn new music, it's endless.

It's an honor to have fans. Some people are musicians and maybe understand it more that I play horn lines for example. Of course I like that people are listening to my music and enjoy what they hear but I also like that people are just listening even if they don't like what they hear.


/Mike Stern


Mike Stern with Miles Davis


Mike Stern solo guitar+



Mike Stern with Eric Johnson in 2013



Mike Stern's legendary career includes work with Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius and a very long list of the top players in jazz+. Stern has put countless amazing musical partnerships on stage, released a large number of solo-albums and received six Grammy-nominations to date for his work. In 2014 he plans to release an album-collaboration with Eric Johnson. Find out more HERE.