Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist with the Umo Jazz Orchestra Together ★★★

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Randy Brecker (t, flhn) and Mats Holmquist (arr, comp), with the Umo Jazz Orchestra featuring Max Zenger (ts), Ville Vannemaa (ss), Mikko Pettinen (t), Heikki Thuhanene (tb), Seppo Kantonen (p) and Mikel Ullberg (g). Rec. 15-16 March 2018 

Brecker, of course, has the stellar guest appearance thing totally down: crystal sharp solos drop perfectly into what ever context is created around him. He lends superstar endorsement while the hosts walk tall. You really can’t see the joins. Holmquist’s arrangements are lucid, light and give ample room for soloists to lean on a warm mattress of sound.

Most songs are re-workings of ‘standards’: ‘Stellar by Starlight’ grows into ‘My Stellar’, ‘All the Things You Are’ is morphed into ‘All My Things.’ A gang of Corea songs is also visited, be it a gently swinging ‘Window’, over which Brecker glides all glisterry, or, more angular and testing, a complex re-work of ‘Humpty Dumpty’. The Finnish orchestra keep it all tight, whether on the chiming fanfares of ‘One Million Circumstances’, quite Gibbsian with all that sonorous brass, or understandably bluesier on ‘Never Let Me Go’, with Brecker’s flugelhorn mellifluous as ever.

Andy Robson

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