July 2006

Marc Copland and Randy Brecker - Both/And
Nagel Heyer 2067
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Jazz pianist Marc Copland was a well-regarded sax player in Philadelphia and New York before he left the music scene for ten years to study piano. Since his return in the mid-'80s, he has maintained an astonishing recording pace. In the last five years alone he has led or appeared on 15 discs, and this year he’ll release three more.

For all Copland’s accomplishments, it is Randy Brecker, his co-leader on Both/And, that most jazz fans will know best. Copland led a 1995 session, Stompin’ with Savoy, that featured Brecker, and his musical association with Randy and his brother Michael goes back to their high school years together in Philadelphia. Randy Brecker has been all over the map stylistically, from fusion and funk to hip-hop. Copland gives him focus and a strong foundation. As a result, Brecker does some of his best playing.

Copland is an intelligent player who combines melodic passion with precision and intellectual playfulness. The effect on Brecker is to push him into thoughtful playing that avoids cliché. The musicians bring balance to each other. Copland’s cerebral chord voicing on Gershwin’s "I Loves You Porgy" play well under the warm, melodic tones of Brecker’s trumpet. The effect is an enjoyable combination of heart and mind. Ed Harris on bass and Victor Lewis on drums give the co-leaders solid support in a clean, atmospheric recording. Brecker and Copland could have given Lee Morgan’s "The Sidewinder" a harder edge, but otherwise this is a nearly faultless disc by two musicians at the top of their game.