May 28, 2024

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Susan Brecker remembers her husband, saxophonist Michael Brecker: Video

A diverse array of artists pay tribute to saxophonist Michael Brecker at The Nearness Of You Concert, in the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Jan. 28.

Brecker’s influence spanned the worlds of jazz, pop and rock, his cutting-edge artistry earning him 15 Grammys and the laser focus of many of today’s students of contemporary music.

He died in 2007 at 57, of complications from myelodysplastic syndrome. His widow, Susan Brecker, paid a recent visit to Morning Jazz to talk about the beliefs that informed his playing, what brought the two of them together, and his life as world-traveling musician and father of two.

The concert will feature, among others, the actor and vocalist Hugh Jackman; soprano Harolyn Blackwell; singers Patti Austin and James Taylor; trumpeter Randy Brecker; guitarist and former MLB All-Star Bernie Williams; saxophonists Chris Potter and Donny McCaslin; and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Proceeds will support cancer research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

As a result of his stylistic and harmonic innovations, 15-time Grammy winner Michael Brecker is widely regarded as one of the most eminent saxophonists of the last 40 years and among the world’s most studied contemporary instrumentalists in music schools today.

Before the rise of his solo career, Michael was a co-founder of the seminal jazz-rock group Dreams, and co-leader of both Steps Ahead and the Brecker Brothers. He has recorded and performed with a Who’s Who of jazz and pop giants, including Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell, Chet Baker, Parliament Funkadelic, Chick Corea, Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pat Metheny, Billy Joel, Frank Zappa, Paul Simon and James Taylor. The New York Times hailed Michael as, “Among the most influential musicians in jazz since the 1960s.” Jazziz magazine wrote: “You’ll find no better example of stylistic evolution than Michael Brecker, inarguably the most influential tenor stylist of the past 25 years.”

Michael Brecker passed away from MDS in January 2007. He could not find a matching donor. He was 57 years old.

Susan Brecker with Gary Walker

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