The Brecker Brothers
In the '70s, brothers Michael and Randy Brecker co-led a band of New York session big shots that included, at various times, David Sanborn, Don Grolnick, Will Lee, and George Duke, among others. When they chose, the Brecker Brothers Band could be one of the most intelligent and creative fusion outfits.
Chief composer/trumpeter Randy's best tunes were structurally unpredictable, melodically intricate, and harmonically complex, inside/out bop heads played in an impossibly precise manner over a bed of funk rhythms. Unlike the bulk of jazz-funk (then and now), the Breckers -- on their first record, at least -- kept the pandering to a minimum.
Though it had a certain commercial appeal, 1975's Back to Back was an artistic success as well. The Brothers' music was a smart combination of extended pop forms, top-notch jazz improvisation, and sophisticated compositional techniques.
On later albums, the temptation to sell lots of records apparently became too great to resist. Even the otherwise excellent first record bore some marks of disco, and with each subsequent album, the band's creative IQ shrank by several points.
Still, virtually every record had something of substance to recommend it. In the early '90s, RCA issued a pair of compilation CDs that combined the best of the band's purely instrumental, jazz-based work.
By 1982, the brothers had ceased working together, but did reunite for touring and recording in the early '90s. ~ Chris Kelsey.