• Jonathan Widran

RANDY BRECKER & MATS HOLMQUIST with UMO JAZZ ORCHESTRA, Together

No doubt the global fame of Grammy winning trumpet and flugelhorn master Randy Brecker made his name the obvious choice for co-lead artist (with Swedish conductor, composer and arranger Mats Holmquist) on this extraordinary, sonically far-reaching recording by UMO Jazz Orchestra, the legendary Finnish big band.

Happily, Brecker’s always impeccable, emotionally in the moment solos are but a few of the dizzying highlights of the almost constantly hopping project. The other great soloists are among Scandinavia’s most notable musicians – not as marketable as Brecker, but no less explosive and heart-tugging.

Holmquist’s homegrown compositions fit splendidly alongside his ingenious new spins through standards like “Never Let Me Go” and “Stella By Starlight” (refashioned as the 11 minute, solo-stocked opus “My Stella”) and three brilliant Chick Corea gems offering different vibes and moods of the legendary pianist. Brecker has worked with Holmquist before, most notably as a soloist on the Latvian Radio Big Band’s 2017 date Big Band Minimalism. So let’s call Together “big band maximalism” at its very best!

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