The praise lavished on trumpeter Randy Brecker this year has come as something of a surprise, but not because his talent doesn't merit it. In fact, hardly a jazz trumpeter alive can top Brecker when it comes to combining blood-and-guts technique with cracklingly smart improvisations, and he's earned his place in the lineage that includes Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, and Freddie Hubbard. And it's not because Brecker's 1998 Grammy award, his second, came in the "contemporary jazz" category: after all, more people know him through the 70s fusion funk of the Brecker Brothers than for the sum of his work with Horace Silver and Thad Jones. No, the surprise is that Brecker won the Grammy for an album of Brazilian-flavored jazz (Into the Sun, on Concord); though he was once married to Brazilian pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias, until that record Brecker had shown little interest in hot sambas and fragrant forros. Into the Sun effectively weds jazz to Brazilian pop and funk, but Brecker seems reluctant to overplay his hand. Like Stan Getz--who claimed that his bossa nova recordings had put his kids through college, but steadfastly avoided re-creating them in performance--Brecker won't let the album's tropical sounds dominate his set. The new band he brings to Chicago makes its professional debut this week, and it will stir up a blend of the various compounds, from blues to bebop to funk to hip-hop, in Brecker's chemistry set. The quintet will include relative newcomers on piano, guitar, and drums, as well as Danish-born bassist Chris Minh Doky, whose professional relationship with Brecker goes back almost a decade. Friday and Saturday, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.