June 19, 2024

Sadly, this time around it is true. I had seen a couple of emails in various lists I subscribe to this morning, but someone finally gave me a link to the a news site that has the details.

"Michael Brecker, a versatile and highly influential tenor saxophonist who won 11 Grammys over a career that spanned more than three decades, died Saturday at age 57.

Brecker died in a hospital in New York City of leukemia, according to his longtime friend and manager, Darryl Pitt. "

Truly, a great loss for jazz and the saxophone. Michael was a genius.

I remember first seeing him in the late 80s at the Shoreline Jazz festival. I had gone to see the group Spyro Gyra cause I thought they were great (hey, I was a high school noob). I was totally wrong. The Michael Brecker band, of which I knew nothing, was playing during the day, and I was amazed. He did his thing with the EWI where he would walk on stage, and play around with it for 15 minutes. Amazing stuff. I don’t remember staying for more than 3 Spryo Grya songs after hearing Brecker.

Soon after I heard him on Michael Frank’s song Dr. Sax. Wow! I was hooked. I got to meet him when he was the guest artist at my College. We talked about tech gadgets (Something about Palm Pilots and Maps as I remember). He was funny. During rehearsals, he was messing up (jet lag), and he’d make this face when he did it. I was laughing to whole time.

It’s a sad day.

Update: 01/14 19:28 GMT by E :The New York Times has a nice article about him today.

Update: 01/15 00:48 GMT by E :The Michael Brecker site now has word of his passing. 🙁

Update: 01/15 07:18 GMT by E :Someone posted a video on Youtube as a tribute. Nice montage. And of course, my favorite Steps Ahead song, Self Portrait

5 thoughts on “Michael Brecker dies at age 57

  1. It’s sad. He was taken too soon. I always wonder about the music someone would have made had they lived on. We’re fortunate to have the recordings he made while he was with us. RIP Michael Brecker.

  2. I remember seeing him here in London several times – includng a solo concert which was really amazing.

    This is so very sad.

    Did his bone marrow appeal ever succeed in finding a compatible donor for him?

    Gutted in London,

  3. I saw this in the Usenet group alt.music.saxophone (yeah, it’s usually troll filled). This post from Tim Price was really great.

    I knew Michael Brecker...would talk to him in depth many times over
    the course of the past decades. HE WAS A SERIOUS.....Badass as they
    come player. When he was with Horace Silver I saw the writing on the
    wall between THAT gig...and his presence with DREAMS that this cat was
    going to leave his mark- AND HE SURE DID. I never ever,, heard a player
    function with musicians from Lennon to Yoko Ono to Horave Silver, Mel
    Lewis and you name it as well as Michael. Each IDIOM he played as if he
    lived it. I NEVER HEARD HIM....that it was not inspirational and made
    me want to practice the next day.

    When I started to put my SOTW lessons up and get the ball rolling on
    the net with all those studys.....guess who was the 1st cat to call me
    on the phone and let me know he thought it was a great idea and HE
    LOVED THE STUFF himself. After a call like that....I was in another

    Once , Michael played near my home at a local jazz festival with his
    own band. As the gig ended and he was at the autograph table, he got a
    stool for me behind him and we carried on a pretty funny rap about some
    nice things musically and personally. Later, he stopped down to my home
    to check a SELMER BA tenor I had and eat some Sun Dried Tomato bagles
    and hang. We always was a humble cat...and fun to be around. He tried
    my BA tenor in the kitchen with his DG mouthpiece and it was OUTTA
    THIS WORLD. It was pretty late and my woke up my wife but she was very
    cool about it ( most women woulda entered the room with a bat to wack
    hahaha ) Mike thought it was great that she understood the MINDSET of

    During that time...I offered to give him my CANNONBALL COLLECTION
    book pub thru Hal Leonard. He smiled and said " Oh no Tim, I BOUGHT IT
    ". And proceeded to let me know how it worked for him, and the vibe it
    must of set for those who study, and wanted all things Cannonball.

    Another time after a GUARDALA clinic at SAM ASH....He called me the
    next day & talked to me about how he enjoyed my bari-sax playing that
    day....and about the fun he had playing with me. This cat knew how to
    give and give and give. We spoke a lot about cool stuff like
    SLOMINSKY...or the stuff in the LATE TRANE musics or the " real"
    genuine fun that you could get in playing stuff by Frankie Lymon & The
    Teenages. ( Mike knew I was doing stuff like Lou Chrystie and Jay & The
    Americans at that point,,,,and it made me understand a REAL WORLD
    stance to making a living. Also made me glad I understood that I
    ENJOYED doing those gigs. lol )

    He also had a rapport with the great saxist BILLY ROOT from Philly and
    spoke of lettes they were writing back and forth and the RESPECT
    Brecker had for Mr Billy Roots history as a unsung giant.
    When I played the NORTH SEA FEST one year Brecker came in and heard
    the last 2 tunes. The day I got back to the USA there was a 4 paragraph
    Email about how much he dug it and how much he liked the fact that I
    was getting some attention. He also said he loved Hans Dulfers sound a
    lot- to this day I bet Hans never forgot that!!! Michael was
    inspirational for me but NOT thru initation but thru the quest and
    search for knowledge.

    IMHO...Michael Brecker was one of the most serious and seriously
    gifted saxophone players I ever encountered. His ability to play drums
    or understand things from a SAX to DRUM sitiation was a
    lesson_MOST_will never get to in this ear. His time from that
    standpoint STILL amazes me. The only other guy I ever think was into
    that...mighta been Chick Corea...but I'm still thinking on it. Guys
    like Liebman played great drums, ditto Lovano...but Brecker coulda made
    a living as a drummer. And he could of played for anyone too. He laid a
    James Brown feel on me once at his home...I was kinda thinking DAMN
    that soundsnote-for-note like those Clyde Stubblefield pockets he did
    with JB.

    Brecker then showed me the written out GROOVE on his computer....of
    the drum pocket.
    WHAMO!!!!!! Then I realized he not only had thefeel but knew all the
    DRUM lingo like how to notate it. That was not surprizing but really
    still to this day makes me just crack up.

    OH AND BY THE WAY.....nobody could get more out in a " Free Bop "
    setting that Brecker when the vibe was right. This guy went into places
    that were just killin'. Sure we _ALL_got our favs and the stuff that
    makesus all go " yea there you go"....but Michael had his own
    dimension. Just listen to Methenys 80-81 stuff. I heard that LIVE and
    it was some wacked intensity Brecker got at.

    This guy lived to play and PLAY he did.

    We all got out favorites....but one of mine just left the planet. I
    hope everyone at some point meets somebody like Michael Brecker
    because he was a huge asset to me and NEVER asked for a thing in

    Check it out; We had some big fun;

    http://www.timpricejazz.com/cgi-bin/emAlbum.cgi?cm d=show_image&path=Tim%20Price%20and%20Friends&img= 18&tn=1

    May he RIP - he will be missed Tim Price

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