Michael Brecker

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Not to be confused with Michael Brecher. Michael Brecker_sentence_0

Michael Brecker_table_infobox_0

Michael BreckerMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_2_0 Michael Leonard BreckerMichael Brecker_cell_0_2_1
BornMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_3_0 (1949-03-29)March 29, 1949

Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, U.S.Michael Brecker_cell_0_3_1

DiedMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_4_0 January 13, 2007(2007-01-13) (aged 57)

New York City, New York, U.SMichael Brecker_cell_0_4_1

GenresMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_5_0 Jazz, post-bop, jazz fusion, funk, R&B, rockMichael Brecker_cell_0_5_1
Occupation(s)Michael Brecker_header_cell_0_6_0 Musician, composerMichael Brecker_cell_0_6_1
InstrumentsMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_7_0 Tenor saxophone, EWIMichael Brecker_cell_0_7_1
Years activeMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_8_0 1969–2007Michael Brecker_cell_0_8_1
Associated actsMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_9_0 Steps Ahead, Brecker Brothers, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren, Horace Silver, Chick Corea, Dire Straits, James Taylor, John Abercrombie, Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Eddie Gómez, Elvin Jones, Joni Mitchell, Parliament-Funkadelic, Mike Stern, Spyro Gyra, Paul SimonMichael Brecker_cell_0_9_1
WebsiteMichael Brecker_header_cell_0_10_0 Michael Brecker_cell_0_10_1

Michael Leonard Brecker (March 29, 1949 – January 13, 2007) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Michael Brecker_sentence_1

He was awarded 15 Grammy Awards as both performer and composer. Michael Brecker_sentence_2

He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music in 2004, and was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 2007. Michael Brecker_sentence_3

Biography Michael Brecker_section_0

Early life and career Michael Brecker_section_1

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia and raised in Cheltenham Township, a local suburb. Michael Brecker_sentence_4

Born and raised in a Jewish family, his father Bob (Bobby) was a lawyer who played jazz piano and his mother Sylvia was a portrait artist. Michael Brecker_sentence_5

Michael Brecker was exposed to jazz at an early age by his father. Michael Brecker_sentence_6

He grew up as part of the generation of jazz musicians who saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option. Michael Brecker_sentence_7

Brecker began studying clarinet at age 6, then moved to alto saxophone in eighth grade, settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument in his sophomore year. Michael Brecker_sentence_8

He graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1967 and spent that summer at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Michael Brecker_sentence_9

After a year at Indiana University he moved to New York City in 1969, where he carved out a niche for himself as a dynamic and exciting jazz soloist. Michael Brecker_sentence_10

He first made his mark at age 20 as a member of the jazz-rock band Dreams–a band that included his older brother, trumpeter Randy Brecker, trombonist Barry Rogers, drummer Billy Cobham, keyboardist Jeff Kent and bassist Doug Lubahn. Michael Brecker_sentence_11

Dreams was short-lived, lasting only from 1969 through 1972, but Miles Davis was seen at some gigs prior to his recording Jack Johnson. Michael Brecker_sentence_12

Most of Brecker's early work is marked by an approach informed as much by rock guitar as by R&B saxophone. Michael Brecker_sentence_13

After Dreams, he worked with Horace Silver and then Billy Cobham before once again teaming up with his brother Randy to form the Brecker Brothers. Michael Brecker_sentence_14

The band followed jazz-funk trends of the time, but with more attention to structured arrangements, a heavier backbeat, and a stronger rock influence. Michael Brecker_sentence_15

The band stayed together from 1975 to 1982, with consistent success and musicality. Michael Brecker_sentence_16

In 1977 he founded the Seventh Avenue South jazz club with his brother Randy. Michael Brecker_sentence_17

Sideman and leader Michael Brecker_section_2

Brecker was in great demand as a soloist and sideman. Michael Brecker_sentence_18

He performed with bands whose styles ranged from mainstream jazz to mainstream rock. Michael Brecker_sentence_19

Altogether, he appeared on over 700 albums, either as a band member or a guest soloist. Michael Brecker_sentence_20

He put his stamp on numerous pop and rock recordings as a soloist. Michael Brecker_sentence_21

His featured guest solos with James Taylor and Paul Simon are examples of that strand of his work. Michael Brecker_sentence_22

Other notable jazz and rock collaborations included work with Steely Dan, Lou Reed, Donald Fagen, Dire Straits, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Dan Fogelberg, Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Daltrey, Parliament-Funkadelic, Cameo, Yoko Ono, Todd Rundgren, Chaka Khan, Orleans, Blue Öyster Cult, The Manhattan Transfer, Average White Band, Players Association, Everything but the Girl, Patti Austin, Art Garfunkel, Carly Simon, The Brothers Johnson, Karen Carpenter, and T-Square. Michael Brecker_sentence_23

Brecker also recorded or performed with leading jazz figures during his era, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Chet Baker, Jan Akkerman, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, McCoy Tyner, Pat Metheny, Elvin Jones, Claus Ogerman, Billy Cobham, Horace Silver, Mike Stern, Mike Mainieri, Max Roach, Steps Ahead, Dave Holland, Joey Calderazzo, Kenny Kirkland, Bob James, Grant Green, Don Cherry, Hubert Laws, Don Alias, Larry Goldings, Bob Mintzer, Gary Burton, Yusef Lateef, Steve Gadd, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Haden, John Abercrombie, Vince Mendoza, Roy Hargrove and Spyro Gyra. Michael Brecker_sentence_24

Later career Michael Brecker_section_3

Brecker played tenor saxophone on two Billy Joel albums. Michael Brecker_sentence_25

In 1983, Brecker played on three tracks on the album An Innocent Man ("Careless Talk", "Tell Her About It" and "Keeping The Faith"). Michael Brecker_sentence_26

In 1986, he played on "Big Man on Mulberry Street" on the album The Bridge. Michael Brecker_sentence_27

During the early 1980s, he was also a member of NBC's Saturday Night Live Band. Michael Brecker_sentence_28

Brecker can be seen in the background sporting sunglasses during Eddie Murphy's James Brown parody. Michael Brecker_sentence_29

After a stint co-leading the all-star group Steps Ahead with Mike Mainieri, Brecker recorded a solo album in 1987. Michael Brecker_sentence_30

That eponymously titled debut album marked his return to a more traditional jazz setting, highlighting his compositional talents and featuring the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), which Brecker had previously played with Steps Ahead. Michael Brecker_sentence_31

In 1987 he featured his new solo album at the JVC Newport Jazz Festival, incorporating the EWI. Michael Brecker_sentence_32

Brecker continued to record albums as a leader throughout the 1990s and 2000s, winning multiple Grammy Awards. Michael Brecker_sentence_33

He went on tour in 2001 with a collaborative group, Hancock-Brecker-Hargrove. Michael Brecker_sentence_34

This tour was dedicated to jazz pioneers John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Michael Brecker_sentence_35

Brecker paid homage to Coltrane by performing Coltrane's signature piece, "Naima". Michael Brecker_sentence_36

The concert CD from the tour, Directions in Music: Live At Massey Hall (2002), won a Grammy in 2003. Michael Brecker_sentence_37

Illness and Death Michael Brecker_section_4

While performing at the Mount Fuji Jazz Festival in 2004, Brecker experienced a sharp pain in his back. Michael Brecker_sentence_38

Shortly thereafter in 2005, he was diagnosed with the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Michael Brecker_sentence_39

Despite a widely publicized worldwide search, Brecker was unable to find a matching stem cell donor. Michael Brecker_sentence_40

In late 2005, he was the recipient of an experimental partial matching stem cell transplant. Michael Brecker_sentence_41

By late 2006, he appeared to be recovering, but the treatment proved not to be a cure. Michael Brecker_sentence_42

He made his final public performance on June 23, 2006, playing with Hancock at Carnegie Hall. Michael Brecker_sentence_43

Brecker died from complications of leukemia in a Manhattan hospital. Michael Brecker_sentence_44

His funeral was held on January 15, 2007 in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. Michael Brecker_sentence_45

Instruments Michael Brecker_section_5

Early in his career, Brecker played a Selmer Super Balanced Action saxophone (serial number 39xxx), later moving to a lacquer-finished Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone (serial number 86351, manufactured in 1960) with silver-plated neck (serial number 92203), fitted with a Dave Guardala MB1 mouthpiece and LaVoz medium reeds. Michael Brecker_sentence_46

His earlier mouthpieces included a metal Otto Link 'New York' STM (during the mid-1970s) and a metal Dukoff in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Michael Brecker_sentence_47

Brecker also played the drums as he often talked about time, or rhythm, being musically the most important. Michael Brecker_sentence_48

He displayed his drum prowess during shows with his own ensembles or accompanying students during masterclasses. Michael Brecker_sentence_49

Legacy Michael Brecker_section_6

On February 11, 2007, Brecker was awarded two posthumous Grammy awards for his involvement on his brother Randy's 2005 album Some Skunk Funk. Michael Brecker_sentence_50

On May 22, 2007, his final recording, Pilgrimage, was released and received a good critical response. Michael Brecker_sentence_51

It was recorded in August 2006 with Pat Metheny on guitar, John Patitucci on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums and Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau on piano. Michael Brecker_sentence_52

Brecker was critically ill when it was recorded, but the other musicians involved praised the standard of his musicianship. Michael Brecker_sentence_53

Brecker was again posthumously awarded two additional Grammy Awards for this album in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group, bringing his Grammy total to 15. Michael Brecker_sentence_54

Brecker's search in the International Bone Marrow Registry for a match prompted his wife and manager to organize a series of bone marrow drives throughout the world, including the Red Sea, Monterey, and Newport Jazz Festivals. Michael Brecker_sentence_55

Brecker was subsequently featured in a film directed by Noah Hutton (son of Debra Winger and Timothy Hutton), named More to Live For. Michael Brecker_sentence_56

It documents Brecker's battle with leukemia, and the production of his final recording. Michael Brecker_sentence_57

By going public with his illness, Brecker raised tens of thousands of dollars for testing, and signed up many thousands of donors, but was unable to find a match for himself. Michael Brecker_sentence_58

Herbie Hancock said that around nine months before his death, Brecker had started practicing Buddhism and three months later joined Soka Gakkai International, a group associated with Nichiren Buddhism. Michael Brecker_sentence_59

At Brecker's memorial service, Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Buster Williams (who all practice the same form of Buddhism) as well as Brecker's son, Sam, sat in a line with their backs to the audience while facing an inscribed scroll (Gohonzon) hanging in a wooden shrine (Butsudan) and chanted, "Nam myoho renge kyo" for five minutes. Michael Brecker_sentence_60

Brecker's widow Susan organized two benefit concerts, the first in 2015 and the latter in 2017. Michael Brecker_sentence_61

The events were dubbed "The Nearness of You" concert and were held at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Appel Room. Michael Brecker_sentence_62

The concerts aimed to support cancer research at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the work of doctors Azra Raza and Siddhartha Mukherjee. Michael Brecker_sentence_63

Guest performers included James Taylor, Paul Simon, Chaka Khan, Randy Brecker, Dianne Reeves, Bobby McFerrin, Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, Will Lee, Gil Goldstein, Antonio Sanchez, John Patitucci, Adam Rogers, Mike Mainieri, Andy Snitzer, Jack DeJohnette, Chase Baird, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Robert Glasper, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane, Nir Felder, Eli Degibri and others. Michael Brecker_sentence_64

The Michael Brecker Archive was established in 2013 at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, in collaboration with Susan Brecker, and Randy Brecker acting as advisor. Michael Brecker_sentence_65

The archive contains: original pencil and ink tune manuscripts covering Brecker's solo career and collaborations with Elvin Jones, Pat Metheny, Paul Simon, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and others; three EWIs; mouthpieces, reeds and other equipment; over 250 commercially released LPs and CDs; over 1200 hours of unreleased live recordings and studio mixes on cassettes, DATs and other digital media; nine practice journals spanning from Brecker's time at Indiana University to the late 1990s; music books from his personal collection; an extensive clippings file; business materials; tour itineraries and record company/tour promotional materials; and over 1500 unreleased photo images. Michael Brecker_sentence_66

Selected discography Michael Brecker_section_7

See also: Michael Brecker discography Michael Brecker_sentence_67

As leader or co-leader Michael Brecker_section_8

Michael Brecker_unordered_list_0

As sideman Michael Brecker_section_9

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael Brecker.