RANDY BRECKER, City Center Sheraton, Monday.

A longtime and well-respected jazz player, trumpeter Randy Brecker, made his debut in the Jazz in Salt Lake City series Monday night.

Joined by his wife, saxophonist Ada Rovatti, and the rest of his band — Dave Kikoski on piano, David Gilmore on guitar, Kenny Davis on bass and Billy Kilson on drums — the Randy Brecker Quartet marked the 100th (and the season's final) concert for the jazz series.

Charged with high-voltage energy from beginning to end, the group played tight, sophisticated sets that traversed a range of styles. The group began with "Dirty Dogs," which Brecker described as "altered blues." Coming out strong, the band members introduced their distinctive voices through solos.

After that, Davis and Kilson backed into the shadows for most of the concert (with some exceptions), while Brecker, Rovatti and Gilmore dominated. Although Brecker is the bandleader, he was generous with the spotlight, giving almost equal time to the other two, and plenty of solo time to Kikoski. It was almost always a smart move; Rovatti and Gilmore proved themselves to be Brecker's equal in talent.

A lot of Kikoski's solos, however, made him sound like a wannabe horn player stuck on the wrong instrument. Too often, his solos turned out to be mostly single-line melodies played with his right hand alone.

The whole band proved fairly versatile with the set selections — particularly Davis, who effortlessly switched between acoustic and electric bass. Ranging from bebop to funk, the chart choices drew from older stuff (from the Brecker Brothers), to new tunes — all of them original. Some of their best charts were the "get-down-and-kick-it-out" funk numbers, like "Sponge" (which, incidentally, got a standing ovation at intermission). As a side note, Davis deserves a big kudos for a fantastic solo on this chart. Another high point in the concert was "Hangin' in the City" (another funk chart), which featured Brecker in a vocal "solo" by alter-ego "Randroid."

The quartet also threw in a bit of ethnic flavor with the Irish/Italian (Irish style, Italian composer) "O Corko Mio" and "Shanghai," which was written in the city by that name.

Anytime Rovatti and Brecker were playing together — especially in duet form — it was a highlight. The two are a fabulous musical match, blending spiritually as well as harmonically and stylistically. Charts like Rovatti's "Stuntman" were "made" by the way these two sounded together.

Of all the concerts offered in this series, this one tended to be on the progressive side. The music itself was complex yet accessible, and Brecker sometimes enhanced his playing with a digital effects instrument that attached to his trumpet. Given the fusion flavor of a lot of the charts, the machine served its purpose well and added favorably to the concert.


E-mail: rcline@desnews.com