Why Does Michael Brecker Continue to Blow Our Minds?

Solo Transcriptions – The Michael Brecker Collection

Live in Helsinki

Artist Transcriptions

Video – Live at the Vanguard with John Abercrombie

Tales From The Hudson

From a 1997 Japanese gig, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Joey Calderazzo, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette play Pat”s composition, “Song for Bilbao.” This is about as good as it gets, for me. This is the music that keeps me alive. This is the music that makes sense to me, as very little else does these days. This is the music that gives me hope. This is the music that inspires me.

Michael Brecker (March 29, 1949 – January 13, 2007) was a popular US jazz saxophonist and one of the premier saxophonists of the post-Coltrane era. Before his premature death of leukemia brought on by a blood and bone marrow disorder, Brecker established himself as one of the most respected and admired jazz musicians of his time. He won 11 Grammys as both a performer and composer. Brecker enjoyed his role as a uniter of musicians and music fans through his profound knowledge of mixing several genres and styles into smooth performances which were peppered with fiery and impassioned improvisation. Brecker lived for the sake of composing and performing music for others.

Michael Brecker, was, by all accounts, one of the premier saxophonists of his generation, often viewed as a successor and true heir of jazz giant John Coltrane’s mantle:

“Brecker combined the striving energy, technical ambition and sophisticated harmonic sense of Coltrane – his first and biggest inspiration – with a soulful bluesiness that allowed him to drop easily into the earthiest of blues, rock or funk bands. In his prime, he could sustain an unaccompanied one-man show by sounding like several sax players, and even parts of a rhythm section, all at the same time.”

Of particular note was Brecker’s ability to adapt to seemingly any situation, to lead his own traditional jazz group, play in a jazz/rock/funk fusion group, or contribute a part to a pop recording as a session musician:

“Having accompanied everyone from James Taylor and Joni Mitchell to McCoy Tyner and Charlie Haden, his ability to keep a foot in each camp made him an in-demand sideman. Combining John Coltrane’s sheets of sound approach with funky soul, he established himself as one of the most distinctive voices of his generation.”

Brecker also won 11 Grammy Awards over the course of his career, but his lasting legacy is the extremely broad and diverse body of recordings he leaves behind, the thousands of records on which he has performed, and the remarkable consistency and astounding excellence of his performances. As friend and fellow jazz musician Pat Metheny puts it:

“The most treacherous position in jazz was being the guy who has to take a solo right after Mike Brecker.”

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