Sunday, January 14, 2007

Michael Brecker, 1949 - 2007

Michael & Randy Brecker
Originally uploaded by Garry Corbett.

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Brecker, a versatile and much-studied jazz saxophonist who won 11 Grammys over a career that spanned more than three decades, died Saturday at age 57.
Brecker died in New York of leukemia, according to his longtime friend and agent, Darryl Pitt.

In recent years, the saxophonist had myelodysplastic syndrome, a cancer in which the bone marrow stops producing enough healthy blood cells. The disease, known as MDS, often progresses to leukemia.

Becker, who had a home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, was born in 1949 in Philadelphia and had won 11 Grammys for his work as a tenor saxophonist. He was inspired to study the tenor saxophone by the work of jazz legend John Coltrane, according to his website.

He and his brothers led a successful jazz-rock fusion group called the Brecker Brothers. Throughout his career, he recorded and performed with numerous jazz and pop music leaders, including Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell, according to the site.

His technique on the saxophone was widely emulated and taught. Jazziz magazine once called him "inarguably the most influential tenor stylist of the last 25 years."

Though somewhat introverted, his struggle with the blood disease led him to publicly encourage people to enroll in marrow donor programs.

A respondent on the Fender Forum wrote: "Michael was truly one of the greats, and he could play both rock/blues and the most challenging, way-out jazz with equal facility. If you haven't checked him out I'd highly recommend "Tales From The Hudson" and "Time Is Of The Essence" (both with Pat Metheny) for starters. What a tragic loss."

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