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Michael Brecker

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University, Michael Brecker moved to New York City in 1970 where he carved out a niche for himself as a dynamic and exciting jazz soloist. He first made his mark at age 21 as a member of the jazz/rock band Dreams—a band that included his older brother Randy, trombonist Barry Rogers, drummer Billy Cobham, Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn. Dreams was short-lived, lasting only a year, but influential (Miles Davis was seen at some gigs prior to his recording "Jack Johnson").

Most of Brecker's early work is marked by an approach informed as much by rock guitar as by R&B saxophone. 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 Band, which played fusion that was equal parts bar band, Monk, and Sly Stone. The band followed the trail blazed by Miles Davis's 1970s bands and Weather Report, but with more attention to structured arrangements, a heavier backbeat, and a stronger rock influence. The band stayed together from 1975-1982 with consistent success and musicality.

At the same time, Brecker put his stamp on numerous pop and rock recordings as a soloist. His more notable collaborations include those with James Taylor, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Donald Fagen and Joni Mitchell. During the early 80s he was also a member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live band. Brecker can be seen in the background sporting shades during Eddie Murphy’s James Brown parody, Get In The Hot Tub. He also played sax briefly on Frank Zappa's live album Zappa in New York.

After a stint co-leading the all-star group Steps Ahead with Mike Mainieri, Brecker finally recorded a solo album in 1987. 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. He continued to record albums as a leader throughout the 1990s and 2000s, winning multiple Grammy Awards, and his solo and group tours consistently have sold out top jazz venues in major cities worldwide.

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Liner Notes

Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic 1977

Read "Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic 1977" reviewed by Paul Rauch


Sullivan County, New York, is a long way from the grind of the jazz scene in New York City. For iconic pianist Hal Galper, it has been home for some forty five years. The area has long drawn artists attracted to its rural lifestyle, and quick access to the city. For Galper, his move represented a bit of a repose lifestyle-wise, after spending many years on the road and in the studio with the likes of Chet Baker, Cannonball Adderly ...

4
Liner Notes

Steve Khan: Arrows

Read "Steve Khan: Arrows" reviewed by AAJ Staff


By Steve Khan With The Blue Man not selling as well as Tightrope, Dr. George Butler requested that I have a co-producer for the next CD. I was lucky to be able to land the engineering / production talents of my old and dear friend, Elliot Scheiner. Elliot and I had recorded together on countless sessions, but perhaps most people link us together because it was Elliot who recommended me to Donald Fagen and Walter Becker for AJA, which, of ...

5
Book Excerpts

Ode to a Tenor Titan

Read "Ode to a Tenor Titan" reviewed by Bill Milkowski


The following is an excerpt from Chapter 8, “Going Solo, The Pittbull and The EWI" from Bill Milkowski's Ode to a Tenor Titan: The Life and Times and Music of Michael Brecker (Backbeat Books, 2022). By early 1986, Michael began formulating plans for his long-overdue solo debut. He was 37, a universally respected figure and acknowledged 'monster' player admired by fellow musicians from the pop, rock and jazz worlds. He had ridden to fame through the '70s ...

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Book Review

Michael Brecker: Ode to a Tenor Titan

Read "Michael Brecker: Ode to a Tenor Titan" reviewed by Kyle Simpler


Ode to a Tenor Titan Bill Milkowski 408 Pages ISBN: # 978-1-4930-5376-6 Backbeat Books 2021 By the summer of 2005, most people in the jazz world knew that legendary tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker was suffering from a serious medical condition. He had been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a pre-leukemia bone marrow disorder, and his wife, Susan, was desperately trying to find someone with a bone marrow match who would provide the possibility ...

1
Radio & Podcasts

Michael Brecker, Rodney Holmes, Brett Garsed, and from the '70s Sonny Fortune, Lee Ritenour and George Duke

Read "Michael Brecker, Rodney Holmes, Brett Garsed, and from the '70s Sonny Fortune, Lee Ritenour and George Duke" reviewed by Len Davis


Michael Brecker from his album Wide Angles, drummer Rodney Holmes, Sonny Fortune, Lee Ritenour and George Duke.Playlist Michael Brecker"Modus Operandi" from Wide Angles (Verve) 00:00 Rodney Holmes “The Bronx Experiment" from Twelve months of October (Self Produced 06:13 Uncle Moe's Space Ranch “[email protected]" from Uncle Moe's Space Ranch (Tone Centre) 12:22 Dirty Martini “Miss You" from Live at Baked Potato (Self Produced) 18:31 Tom Scott and LA Express “Rock Island Rocket" from Tom Cat (Record Label) 24:39 Sonny ...

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Album Review

Hal Galper Quintet: Live At The Berlin Philharmonic 1977

Read "Live At The Berlin Philharmonic 1977" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan


It must be gratifying to accomplish everything you set out to do. Pianist Hal Galper says he has done just that. And, after a career that included work with trumpeter Chet Baker and saxophonists Cannonball Adderley and Stan Getz, along with a ten year stint in saxophonist Phil Woods' band (1980-1990), followed by ten years of touring and recording with his own trio, that claim would have been a valid one then, before the dawn of the new millennium. But ...

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Radio & Podcasts

Michael Brecker, Steven Bernstein and the Art of Jazz-Hacking the Pop World - Part 2

Read "Michael Brecker, Steven Bernstein and the Art of Jazz-Hacking the Pop World - Part 2" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu


This is the second part of our exploration of Michael Brecker's and Steven Bernstein's work as first-call musicians in the world of high-end pop productions. Their capacity to adapt to the demands of these productions while remaining true to their jazz roots has offered millions of listeners that might have looked at jazz with a grain of diffidence an opportunity to re-assess their skepticism. Brecker and Bernstein musicians that have played and keep playing a prime role in ...

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Book / Magazine

'The Practice Notebooks Of Michael Brecker' Now Available From Sher Music

'The Practice Notebooks Of Michael Brecker' Now Available From Sher Music

Source: Sher Music Co.

Sher Music Co. proudly presents The Practice Notebooks of Michael Brecker, an extraordinary release that grants unprecedented access to the inner workings of one of the greatest saxophonists in jazz history. This remarkable publication offers a rare opportunity for musicians to dive deep into the mind of a jazz legend and unlock the secrets of his improvisational mastery. Featuring over 700 beautifully engraved entries, The Practice Notebooks of Michael Brecker chronicles 35 years of Brecker's artistic journey, capturing his inspirations, ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Michael Brecker's birthday today!

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University, Michael ...

1

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Michael Brecker's birthday today!

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University, Michael ...

3

Book / Magazine

Ode to a Tenor Titan: The Life and Times and Music of Michael Brecker by Bill Milkowski

Ode to a Tenor Titan: The Life and Times and Music of Michael Brecker by Bill Milkowski

Source: All About Jazz

After John Coltrane, there was no more revered and profoundly influential saxophonist on the planet than Michael Brecker. For those coming of age in the 1970s, during that transitional decade when the boundaries between rock and jazz had begun to blur, Brecker stood as a transcendent figure. He was their Trane. Ode to a Tenor Titan follows Michael's story from growing up in jny: Philadelphia, finding his tenor sax voice during his brief stint at Indiana University, making his move ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Michael Brecker's birthday today!

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University, Michael ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Michael Brecker's birthday today!

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University, Michael ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Michael Brecker's birthday today!

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University... Read ...

1

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Michael Brecker's birthday today!

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University... Read ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Jazz Musician of the Day: Michael Brecker

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Michael Brecker's birthday today!

Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University... Read ...

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Event

First Michael Brecker Saxophone Competition Announced

First Michael Brecker Saxophone Competition Announced

Source: Eli Degibri

Internationally acclaimed saxophonist, Eli Degibri, announced his intention to establish The Michael Brecker Saxophone Competition last month at the Nearness of You Concert, a biennial event held at Lincoln Center to raise money for cancer research in honor of the late Michael Brecker. In front of an audience consisting of President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton, Degibri reminisced about the first time he heard the legendary Brecker perform, thirty years prior, at the inaugural Red Sea Jazz Festival in ...

John Coltrane
saxophone
B.D. Lenz
guitar
Brian Swartz
trumpet
Dennis Mitcheltree
saxophone, tenor
Gabriele D'Angela
guitar, electric
Russ Nolan
saxophone, tenor
Anna Brooks
saxophone
Dave Wilson
saxophone
Ada Rovatti
saxophone
Frank Macchia
composer / conductor
Rodger Fox
trombone
Bob Reynolds
saxophone, tenor
Lili Añel
vocals
Michael Pedicin
saxophone, tenor
Glenn White
saxophone
Ian Willson
saxophone
Dave Mullen
saxophone, tenor
Ricky Hopkins
saxophone
Richard Howell
saxophone
Anthony Greene
saxophone
Sue Orfield
saxophone, tenor
Peter Fraize
saxophone
Pete Sklaroff
guitar, electric
Laurent Doumont
saxophone
Frido ter Beek
saxophone
Johnny Padilla
saxophone
F. ter Beek
saxophone
Matt Olson
saxophone, tenor
Beledo
guitar
Elliot Spero
saxophone, tenor
Bele Beledo
guitar
Jeremy Shoham
saxophone
Marek Buble
saxophone, alto
Vincent Houdijk
vibraphone
Andrew DeNicola
saxophone, tenor
Michael Lake
trombone
Gabriel Bey
trumpet
Aldo Salvent
saxophone, tenor
Roy Futaba
saxophone, tenor
Earle Eidenire
saxophone, tenor
Jon Bentley
saxophone, tenor
Stephanie Lottermoser
saxophone, tenor
Jason Kush
saxophone
Zac Zinger
saxophone, tenor
Jozef Nadj
violin
Aaron Quarterman, Jr.
saxophone, tenor
Gregg Fine
guitar
Bruce Phares
bass, acoustic
Viktor Haraszti
saxophone
José Valentino
multi-instrumentalist
Paul Ward
piano
Seba Molnar
saxophone, tenor
Q3
band / ensemble / orchestra
Rob Cope
saxophone, soprano
Thomas Hamilton
saxophone, tenor
Richard Pavlidis
saxophone, tenor
Ye Huang
clarinet
Yuto Mitomi
saxophone, tenor
Rea Meir
woodwinds
Anton Chekurov
saxophone, alto
Brain Salad
band / ensemble / orchestra
Manuel Muzzu
bass, electric
Matthew Alec
saxophone, tenor
Alessandro Bertozzi
saxophone, alto
Ikechi Onyenaka
saxophone, alto
CHYKE MARTINS
saxophone
Gabriel Genest
saxophone, tenor
Jackson Cotugno
saxophone, tenor
Tibor Debreceni
guitar, electric
David Bernot
saxophone, tenor
Chris Torkewitz
saxophone, tenor
Brian Grace
saxophone
Steve Britt
saxophone
Modern Times Ensemble
band / ensemble / orchestra
Dave Salvator
saxophone
Pete Oxley
guitar
Jabin Ward
saxophone
Alex Madeline
saxophone
Egor Tokarev
saxophone, tenor
Stefán S. Stefánsson
composer / conductor
Hejira
band / ensemble / orchestra
Anthony Bruno
saxophone

Photos

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Milagro

Postcards
2022

buy

Dedications

Postcards
2022

buy

The Stars of Jazz #2

Arkadia Records
2022

buy

Live at the Berlin...

Origin Records
2021

buy

Live in Helsinki 1995

Random Act Records
2015

buy

The Complete Arista...

Legacy Recordings
2012

buy

This Is the Thing

From: Live at the Berlin...
By Michael Brecker

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