Wide Angles (Verve Music Group)

Michael Brecker Quindectet

Released September 9, 2003

Grammy Award Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2004






On September 9 Verve will release Wide Angles, an album of new tunes written by saxophonist Michael Brecker and played by his quindectet. I didn’t make that word up, Brecker did, by combining the prefix “quindec,” which connotes a group of 15, and the suffix “tet,” which is, um, the name of the Vietnamese New Year. By now you should have realized that Wide Angles is Brecker’s first big-band recording.
Last winter Brecker toured the U.K., and in between pots of tea and games of cricket he played a number of dates with a small jazz band and a bunch of British string, woodwind and brass musicians-the quindectet. The repertoire was filled with old tunes by the Breckster, all arranged especially for the band by keyboardist Gil Goldstein. Apparently liking the sound and foreseeing more possibilities with the quindectet, Brecker broke out the blank score sheets when he returned home and wrote nine compositions for a studio recording with the band, getting help on “Scylla” from producer George Whitty. Later, former Brecker Brothers keyboardist Don Grolnick contributed the song “Evening Faces” and Brecker then had a nice round number of tracks for his next album. (Full track list below)
The quindectet, which includes bassist John Patitucci, trombonist Robin Eubanks and drummer Antonio Sanchez, recorded Wide Angles at New Jersey’s Bennett Studios, a joint established by Tony Bennett and his son, Dae. Both Goldstein and Brecker did arranging for the album’s tracks, making sure to give Iain Dixon’s bass clarinet plenty of action.

Track Listing:

1. Broadband (Michael Brecker) 6:46

2. Cool Day in Hell (Michael Brecker) 7:51

3. Angle of Repose (Michael Brecker) 6:42

4. Timbuktu (Michael Brecker) 8:00

5. Night Jessamine (Michael Brecker) 5:21

6. Scylla (Michael Brecker / George Whitty) 10:40

7. Brexterity (Michael Brecker) 6:40

8. Evening Faces (Don Grolnick) 7:14

9. Modus Operandy (Michael Brecker) 5:27

10. Never Alone (Michael Brecker) 5:39


Michael Brecker: tenor sax

Alex “Sasha” Sipiagin: trumpet

Robin Eubanks: trombone

Peter Gordon: french horn

Steve Wilson: flute, alto flute

Iain Dixon: clarinet, bass clarinet

Charles Pillow: oboe, English horn

Mark Feldman: (concertmaster) violin

Joyce Hammann: violin

Lois Martin: viola

Erik Friedlander: cello

Adam Rogers: guitar

John Patitucci: bass

Antonio Sanchez: drums

Daniel Sadownick: percussion

Recorded January 22 – 24, 2003, at Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ

Produced and arranged by Michael Brecker and Gil Goldstein

Orchestrated by Gil Goldstein

Executive Producer: Jason Olaine

Recording and Mixing: Jay Newland

Assistant Engineer: Brian Dozoretz

Mastering: Greg Galbi

Illustrations: Nicholas Wilton

Art Direction: Hollis King


Assembling fifteen top jazz musicians to play complex original material is risky business. The session could turn into a repetitive solo showcase or conversely lose its sharpness amidst overproduced arrangements. However, Wide Angles, from tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, comes off as an adventurous presentation of new music in a format rife with possibilities. With a string section, English horn, bass clarinet, flute, French horn and oboe among the traditional big band mix of drums, bass and brass, Brecker keeps things amazingly focused. 
Aside from the expected tenor wizardry, the Gil Goldstein arrangements and orchestrations give Wide Angles its signature sound. Whether Brecker calls up Trane’s spirit, as he does on “Brexterity,” or voices the balladry of “Evening Faces” and “Angle of Repose,” a host of orchestral nuances are cleverly and surprisingly brought to bear behind him. Plaudits should also go to first violinist and concertmaster Mark Feldman who, together with cellist Erik Friedlander, keeps the string section in check while creating a very rich backdrop that allows Brecker to strut his stuff. Brecker doesn’t hold back and his sound is up-front with creative solos and his king-sized tone. Likewise, Iain Dixon turns in a stellar performance on bass clarinet blending perfectly with bassist John Patitucci on the very catchy “Broadband,” the twists and turns of “Cool Day in Hell,” and the sweeping “Scylla.” 

Brecker has produced a cohesive work that maintains a sharp jazz edge while availing itself of the wider angles available through orchestral instrumentation.

Elliot Simon (All About Jazz)