Tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of Michael Brecker’s death at age 57. That gives me a good excuse to reassess his legacy. The release of Bill Milkowski’s new book on the saxophonist was another useful prod, providing me with additional information and insights.
I hope the essay below raises Brecker’s reputation a notch among critics—although it’s safe to say that saxophonists have long known what a formidable presence he was on the horn.
I note with regret that Brecker never got named a NEA Jazz Master, and only made it into the Downbeat Hall of Fame after his death, when readers (not critics) voted him in. Even today, you won’t find Brecker in the Jazz at Lincoln Center jazz hall of fame. None of his recordings are included among the hundreds honored by the Library of Congress in their National Recording Registry. And his name is conspicuously absent on many other honor rolls and ceremonial lists.
Why is Micheal not a NEA Jazz Master?? This is not right. I don’t think I knew much about him other than he played this ripping part on Michael Franks song “Dr. Sax”. This was back before the internet, and you had to BUY physical media to listen to stuff. I actually saw him perform at the Shoreline back in….1989(?) I think. He was NOT the headliner, that honor goes to Spyro Gyra, a band I did know and really liked. Also featured was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. But it was really the Michael Brecker band that simply blew my mind. And he also did his thing when he would loop things on the EWI…..just amazing stuff. I think my friend and I left well before Spyro Gyra finished. We had already witnessed God-like talent and everything after that was….meh.
It seems that iBrecker.com has been down for a while now. Anyone know it’s status? It is sad, as it had a lot of interesting clips on the site, as well as some great transcribed solos. However, the forums seemed dead…….for a long time. That is a shame.
I’m a little confused as to what the difference is between Album of the Year and Record of the Year. But, anyhow from CNN:
Amy Winehouse had a great night at the Grammys, winning five awards, but in a shocking finish, the big award — album of the year — went to Herbie Hancock for “River: The Joni Letters.”
Some other winners are:
Traditional Pop Vocal Album: “Call Me Irresponsible,” Michael Buble
Contemporary Jazz Album: “River: The Joni Letters,” Herbie Hancock.
Jazz Vocal Album: “Avant Gershwin,” Patti Austin.
Jazz Instrumental Solo: “Anagram,” Michael Brecker, soloist.
Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group: “Pilgrimage,” Michael Brecker.
Latin Jazz Album: “Funk Tango,” Paquito D’Rivera Quintet.
Instrumental Composition: “Cerulean Skies,” Maria Schneider, composer (Maria Schneider Orchestra).
Great to see Michael Brecker getting some awards. Finally.
Pretty much anything Michael Brecker did was awe inspiring. I remember back in the day seeing the Michael Brecker band when I was in High School. I had no clue who he was. I was a newbie, or noob at the whole saxophone thing. I basically went to the concert to see Spyro Gyra. Anyhow, Michael Brecker blew me away when he played saxophone, then he did something like this:
Years of the therapy has not helped so far…..and it still is amazing what he could do.
In the July 2007 issue of Mix Magazine, there was a little article about the recording session for Michael’s last album. Some more insight into this album, Michael, and how they recorded it. Two microphones on Michael (U67 (vintage mic) and a Coles 4038 (ribbon mic))