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THE NIGHT I HECKLED RANDY BRECKER AT RONNIE SCOTT’S

So I should be ashamed to tell this story. But I’m not. Because it illustrates gall at its finest - and the graciousness of the elite in music under pressure!


Like Pete, I’ve always been a huge fan of brass / horn sections - what you will - especially when used in contemporary music. They flesh out and add substantially to the inner harmony of music, giving it a beauty and grace that is incomparable when in the hands of those who know how to create it. One such player is the Trumpet Legend that is Randy Brecker.


He will of course be well known as half of The Brecker Brothers, who played prolifically on everyone’s albums from Jaco Pastorius to Sinatra, Zappa, Steely Dan, Donald Fagen - and anyone else you care to think of. Randy began in Big Bands with the likes of Clarke Terry, Thad Jones / Mel Lewis, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.


So in 2008, RB released an album called Randy In Brasil. It featured well known Brazilian musicians with Himself on Trumpet / Flugelhorn. There were two songs on this album which piqued my interest - Pedro De Brasil and Sambop. But it was Sambop which was my absolute favourite. And time willing and permitting, Pete and I will work to include this great piece of writing by RB in our gigging repertoire.


A few years ago, RB came to London to play the album at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. I bought tickets costing £100 for us to go and see this show. It did not disappoint in terms of the standard and quality of musicianship. However, as time went on, I noticed that Sambop was not being offered up. I was standing at the bar with Pete and being a small club, I decided to ‘heckle’ Randy in a friendly manner to,


‘Please can you play Sambop?’


Despite several importunings of this nature (some might call it shouting), he either didn’t hear me, or was ignoring me. To this day, I know not which it was.


When the show was over, as is customary at Ronnie Scott’s, the Star comes out into the foyer to sign copies of their works. I clutched my CD copy of Randy In Brasil and waited in line for my turn. When it finally arrived, Randy took my CD. At which point I chided him,


‘Why didn’t you play Sambop?’


Nothing.


‘It’s the best track on the album. I can’t understand why you didn’t play it’.


Nothing.


But nothing was going to deter me.


’DID YOU FORGET HOW IT WENT ??’


I didn’t really ask RANDY BRECKER that, did I ?? I was so incredibly disappointed at not hearing it - and spending £100 for the privilege of NOT hearing it, I then said,


‘Well then let me sing it for you to remind you!’


At this point I had obviously taken leave of my senses. I began tapping a 4/4 beat on the counter whilst singing the main scat melody of Sambop to him!


The whole time this was going on, he was quietly saying nothing, taking out the CD cover, removing the lid from a Sharpie and preparing to sign it. By then I had had enough! I said,


‘Okay then, can you write this on my CD please? ‘Sorry we didn’t play Sambop!’


And he did.


But the whole time this fiasco was going on, he had a wry smile on his face...


LOVE YOU, RANDY BRECKER!

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