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The Kernel Loaf

Michael Brecker dies at 57

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Gutted. One of the best sax players there ever was.

Michael Brecker, a saxophonist who won 11 Grammy Awards and was among the most influential musicians in jazz since the 1960s, died yesterday at a hospital in New York City. He was 57 and lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The cause of death was leukemia, said Darryl Pitt, his manager.

Having taken a deep understanding of John Coltranes saxophone vocabulary and applied it to music that merged with mainstream culture particularly jazz fusion and singer-songwriter pop of the 1970s and 80s Mr. Brecker spread his sound all over the world.

For a time, Mr. Brecker seemed nearly ubiquitous. His discography it contains more than 900 albums started in 1969, playing on the record Score, with a band led by his brother, the trumpeter Randy Brecker. It continued in 1970 with an album by Dreams, the jazz-rock band he led with his brother and the drummer Billy Cobham.

His long list of sideman work from then on wended through hundreds more records, including those by Frank Zappa, Aerosmith, James Brown, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Funkadelic, Steely Dan, John Lennon, Elton John, and James Taylor, as well as (on the jazz side) Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Papo Vasquez. His 11 Grammys included two for Wide Angles, his ambitious last album, released in 2003 with a fifteen-piece band he called the Quindectet.

His highest achievements were his own albums, both under his own name (starting in 1986) and with the Brecker Brothers band, as well as his early 80s work with the group Steps Ahead. Mr. Brecker was scheduled to tour with a reunited version of Steps Ahead in the summer of 2005 when his condition was publicly announced initially as myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone-marrow disorder, which finally progressed to leukemia and much of his work had to stop.

Mr. Brecker grew up in a musical family in Philadelphia; his father was a lawyer who played jazz piano. He started playing the clarinet at the age 6, switched to alto saxophone in the eighth grade, and finally settled on tenor saxophone in the tenth. He started to attend Indiana University as did his brother Randy. After initially pursuing a music degree and then briefly switching to pre-med, he quickly discovered he preferred to be playing music. He left for New York at 19.

For most of the 1970s and through the mid-80s he worked hard in studio sessions, becoming a fixture on albums by the Southern California pop singer-songwriter movement, including those by Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell. But for hard-core jazz enthusiasts, it was his work of the early 80s on Steps Aheads first two albums, when the band was simply called Steps as well as Chick Coreas Three Quartets, from 1981, and Pat Methenys 80/81, from 1980, that cemented his reputation as a great player.

His tone was strong and focused, and some of his recognizable language echoed Coltranes sound. But having worked in pop, where a solo must be strong and to the point, Mr. Brecker was above all a condenser of exciting devices into short spaces. He could fold the full pitch range of the horn into a short solo, from altissimo to the lowest notes, and connect rarefied ideas to the rich, soulful phrasing of saxophonists like Junior Walker.

In the 1980s and 1990s he experimented with the electronic wind instrument called the EWI, which allowed him to blow through an electronic hornlike device, play a range of sampled sounds, and multitrack them in real time. He began experimenting with the instrument again in the last few years.

With the onset of his illness, he and his family called for bone-marrow donors at international jazz festivals, synagogues, and Jewish community centers around America; tens of thousands responded. Working sporadically over the last year, he managed to complete his final album two weeks ago, Mr. Pitt said.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, of Hastings-on-Hudson; his children, Jessica and Sam, of Hastings-on-Hudson; his brother, Randy, of Manhattan; and his sister, Emily Brecker Greenberg, of Philadelphia.

Michael Brecker Dies at 57; Prolific Jazz Saxophonist - New York Times

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Guest DustyDeviada

Terrible, as well as being a fan of his work with Paul Simon, I like his contributions to Theme from Local Hero by Mark Knopfler and Your Latest Trick by Dire Straits.

Well, at least his great playing will live on at St James' Park every time Newcastle United run out to Local Hero.

RIP. :(

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A real shame. My first introduction to his work was on Zappa's Live in New York album, which, despite the lascivious prescence of Punky's Whips and Titties and Beer is probably the pinnacle of the post-Mothers lineup. Since then I've heard countless examples of his work and they were always of the very highest standard. Quite a loss.

I'd post a discography/appearances, but it is incredibly long 8-)

You can find it on here

He was even on some Aerosmith releases. Wierd

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