June 21, 2024

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Alex Hahn has won the inaugural Michael Brecker international saxophone competition: Sound, Photos, Video

Michael Brecker saw plenty of accolades in his time. Hailed as the preeminent saxophonist of his generation, he won 15 Grammy awards, and played on a number of hit songs.

He was inducted into the DownBeat Hall of Fame in 2007, the year he died of a rare form of leukemia at 57. But Brecker never had the chance to prevail in an organized international competition, like the one that now bears his name.

The first Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition — established by Brecker’s widow, Susan Brecker, and his former manager, Darryl Pitt — took place earlier this week at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel.

Judges for the competition finals, held on Monday, included bassist Ron Carter and three noted saxophonists: Kenny Garrett, Donny McCaslin and Eli Degibri. The top three finishers were selected out of a pool of eight semifinalists. Preliminary judging was conducted blind, on the basis of submitted recordings.

Hahn has experience in a competitive arena. He previously won the North American Saxophone Alliance Jazz Saxophone Competition and the Perform with Mintzer International Saxophone Competition. He recently finished postgraduate studies at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, the organization that has long administered a prominent competition of its own.

Hahn, whose recording credits include the two most recent albums by Michael Bublé, also has new music out this week. New Flight, which releases on Friday, is his third album; here is a track titled “Thoughts.”

The Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition joins a series of other tributes since his passing, including an all-star benefit concert called The Nearness of You. “It is a wonderful honor,” says Susan Brecker of the competition, in a press statement. “Michael was always supportive of young saxophonists and would have been delighted and humbled.”

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