Randy Brecker / Ada Rovatti ‘Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond’ 2LP/CD (Jazzline) 4/5

‘Brecker Plays Rovatti’ may mark the first official album that sees trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Ada Rovatti share top billing but, as many may know, the husband and wife partnership has actually served as long-term collaborators appearing on many of each other’s past projects dating as far back as Rovatti’s first solo album ‘Under The Hat’ released in 2003.

It’s the prestigious German label Jazzline who can now boast having hosted this long-overdue project which sees Ada Rovatti’s compositions take centre stage for the album. As a quick aside, it would be remiss not to mention Jazzline’s very successful 2019 – along with ‘Brecker Plays Rovatti’, there was the recent stunning live project from Snarky Puppy pianist Bill Laurance pairing him with the WDR Big Band for their ‘Live At The Philharmonie Cologne’ set, and in fact a further Brecker project ‘Rocks’ which saw the trumpeter partnered with NDP Big Band – The Hamburg Radio Jazz Orchestra.

But such is Brecker’s prolific nature – the US trumpeter’s staggering career kicked off in the mid to late ’60s having contributed to music from acts as diverse and iconic as Horace Silver, Jaco Pastorius, George Clinton, Bruce Springsteen and Frank Zappa as well as having appeared in countless quartets and big bands. And then there’s the other half of that coin, Italian saxophonist Ada Rovatti. Although having taken a much different path, Rovatti’s credentials have proved awe-inspiring – there have been collaborations with artists including Carmen Lundy, Jeff Lorber, Aretha Franklin and Herbie Hancock, four solo projects as well as her work with The Elephunk Band.

‘Brecker Plays Rovatti’ brings together many long-term friends and collaborators really highlighting the personal and family-inspired nature present throughout ‘Sacred Bond’. The musicians include bassist Alexander Claffy (Charles Owens Quartet, Ben Eunson), keyboardist Jim Beard (Pat Metheny, Steely Dan), pianist David Kikoski (Wayne Escoffery, Monday Michiru), drummer Rodney Holmes (Wayne Shorter, Carlos Santana), percussionist Edson Da Silva Cafe (Harry Belafonte, James Taylor) and guitarist Adam Rogers (Terri Lyne Carrington, The Michael Brecker Group) who appears on a handful of the album’s tracks.

With subtle dalliances into Latin styles the music here is very much presented as a celebration – ‘The Other Side of the Coin’ and ‘Quietly Me’ serve as strong album highlights, as is the swing of ‘The Queen of Bibelot’, helping the poignancy of ‘Sacred Bond’ really shine through. Beyond the fact that saxophonist Ada Rovatti now stands beside her husband Randy in the way his brother, saxophonist Michael Brecker, once did as the other half of the renown Brecker Brothers, the album’s title track also features additional vocals from Randy and Ada’s 10-year-old daughter, Stella, which is an exquisite touch.

Imran Mirza