Michael Brecker

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Michael Brecker in Hamburg (1981)
Michael Brecker in Munich (2001)

Michael Brecker (born March 29, 1949 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , † January 13, 2007 in New York City ) was an American tenor saxophonist and was one of the most influential jazz musicians.

life and work

Michael Brecker grew up in a musical family in Philadelphia. His father was a lawyer who played jazz piano . Brecker Jr. began playing the clarinet at the age of six, switched to the alto saxophone at the age of eight and finally played the tenor saxophone at the age of ten . His older brother Randy chose the trumpet . Both brothers saw and heard from Miles Davis , Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington, among others, very early on . According to Brecker, the desire to become a musician was due to the music of John Coltrane .

In 1966, Brecker followed his brother Randy to the University of Indiana . After graduating, he decided to become a professional musician. In 1968 he went to New York and played first for the jazz rock band Dreams , from 1973 with Randy as the front line of the Horace Silver Quintet . Eventually, the brothers appeared as Brecker Brothers and opened the Seventh Avenue South music club in 1977 , where night jams led to the founding of Steps Ahead , with which Brecker recorded six albums.

Studio music

From the mid-1970s, Brecker played as a much sought-after sideman with Chet Baker , George Benson , Dave Brubeck , Don Cherry , Chick Corea , Gary Burton , Herbie Hancock , Freddie Hubbard , Quincy Jones , Pat Metheny , Charles Mingus , Jaco Pastorius , Horace Silver , Tony Williams , John Lennon , Melanie Safka , Frank Sinatra , Bruce Springsteen , Frank Zappa , Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell .

Brecker made his solo debut in 1987 with a record simply called Michael Brecker , on which Pat Metheny , Jack DeJohnette and Charlie Haden can be heard and which was voted "Album of the Year" by the readers of the jazz magazine Down Beat . With his second solo album Don't Try This At Home , he won his first of a total of eleven Grammys . In 1990 Now You See It ... (Now You Don't) followed , the title track of which is a sophisticated musical “adaptation” of MC Escher's painting, in which one rhythm merges into another without an audible “seam”. Also in 1990 Michael Brecker worked on the album "The Rhythm Of the Saints" by Paul Simon , which Brecker described as his 'absolute favorite album'. This was followed by a year and a half touring with Paul Simon.

In 1992 the Brecker Brothers were revived, who released Out of the Loop in 1994 . In 1995 and 1996 there was a collaboration with Herbie Hancock , in 1997 Brecker played again on the Tales From the Hudson with Pat Metheny, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette . In 1998 Two Blocks From the Edge was recorded with the touring band. On Time Is of the Essence , programmatically dedicated to three drummers , Elvin Jones and the Hammond B-3 organ Larry Goldings were found alongside Pat Metheny for the first time .

Brecker played on 900 albums in the course of his musical life and won eleven Grammy Awards . In 2007 he was posthumously awarded the twelfth Grammy in the category Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for his solo on the album Some Skunk Funk . Posthumously, his album Pilgrimage received the 2007 German Record Critics Award .


Since spring 2005, Michael Brecker has suffered from myelodysplastic syndrome , a serious disease of the bone marrow in which blood formation does not come from healthy but from genetically modified cells, and the result is a disturbed formation of blood cells. This syndrome eventually evolved into leukemia . On January 13, 2007, he succumbed to his illness. He left behind his wife Susan and two grown children. The well-known blog software WordPress dedicated its version 2.5 to him in March 2008.


“His tone was strong and focused, and some of his recognizable speech was reminiscent of Coltrane . But he could also do pop, where a solo has to get to the point quickly, so Mr. Brecker was above all an expert on exciting short solos. He was able to use the entire range of the saxophone in a short solo, from altissimo to the lowest notes, and combine that with the rich, soulful phrasing of saxophonists like Junior Walker . "

- New York Times

Discography (excerpt)

  • The Brecker Brothers: Back To Back (1976)
  • The Brecker Brothers: Heavy Metal Be-Bop (1978)
  • The Brecker Brothers: Detente (1980)
  • The Brecker Brothers: Straphangin (1981)
  • Michael Brecker & Claus Ogerman : Cityscape (album, 1982)
  • Michael Brecker: Michael Brecker (1987)
  • Michael Brecker: Don't Try This At Home (1988)
  • Michael Brecker: Now You See It ... (Now You Don't) (1990)
  • The Brecker Brothers: Return Of The Brecker Brothers (1992)
  • The Brecker Brothers: Out Of The Loop (1994)
  • The Brecker Brothers: The Brecker Brothers, Live (1994)
  • Michael Brecker: Tales From The Hudson (1996)
  • Michael Brecker: Two Blocks From The Edge (1998)
  • Michael Brecker: Time Is Of The Essence (1999)
  • Michael Brecker: Nearness of You: The Ballad Book (2001)
  • Charlie Haden & Michael Brecker: American Dreams (2002)
  • Michael Brecker: Wide Angles (2003)
  • Randy & Michael Brecker (& the WDR Big Band): Some Skunk Funk (2005)
  • Michael Brecker: Pilgrimage (published posthumously in 2007, Annual Prize of the German Record Critics 2007 )

Web links

Commons : Michael Brecker  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Obituary in The Guardian
  2. https://jazzband-live.de/seventh-avenue-south/ - Article about the Jazzclub Seventh Avenue South
  3. http://wordpress.org/development/2008/03/wordpress-25-brecker/ WordPress 2.5 - Developer Statement
  4. ^ "Michael Brecker Dies at 57; Prolific Jazz saxophonist " , New York Times , January 14, 2007