From the Vault...


Michael Brecker
"Michael Brecker"

© Universal Records

Year of Release: 1987

track listing
  • Sea Glass
  • Syzygy
  • Choices
  • Nothing Personal
  • The Cost Of Living
  • Original Rays
  • My One And Only Love

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    Michael Brecker
    "Michael Brecker"

    Jazz music this week, with the late Michael Brecker. His father played jazz piano, and at an early age (age 6), Michael was studying the clarinet. In eighth grade, he moved to the alto saxophone. By his high school sophomore year, he pursued his primary instrument, the tenor saxophone. By age 20, he was in the jazz-rock band Dreams, along with his brother, Randy. Billy Cobham was a band member throughout Dreams' short-lived years (1969 - 1972). After Dreams, Michael worked with Horace Silver. Michael Brecker and his brother Randy, formed The Brecker Brothers (1975-1982). The Brecker Brothers released six albums, consisting of of jazz-rock trends, but on more structured arrangements, such as a heavier backbeat, and a stronger rock influence. In 1977, Michael founded the Sevent Avenue South jazz club, with Randy.

    He in high demand as a soloist and sideman, appearing on over 700 albums. He was albums by such artists as Steely Dan, Lou Reed, Donald Fagen, Dire Straits, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Dan Fogerlberg, Frank Sinatra, Frank Zapps, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Daltrey, Parliament-Funkedelic, Cameo, Yoko Ono, Todd Rundgren, Chaka Khan, Orleans, Blue Oyster Cult, The Manhattan Transfer, Average White Band, Players Association, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Everything But The Girl, Patti Austin, Art Garfunkel, Carly Simon, The Brothers Johnson, Karen Carpenter. Among his fellow Jazz artists, he recorded with Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Pat Metheny, Spyro Gyra, and many, many, others. He was also a member of the Saturday Night Live Band, on NBC. Throughout the 1980s until his death, he had recorded many albums of his own, and with others.

    In 1987, his self-titled debut album, Michael Brecker reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. His debut is definitely that of pure jazz, with resemblances to Miles Davis. Most of the songs are lengthy, as most jazz tracks were. There are only seven songs on this album, where each song is 5 minutes in length, or more.

    "Sea Glass" begins the album, as it is just very comforting, relaxing jazz. For Miles Davis fans, "Syzygy" is upbeat, and has a Miles sound. Another one for the Miles Davis fans, is "Choices" -- it starts out as a track for a movie soundtrack, with a distinctive jazz sound, as Henry Mancini did. Yet it turns into another impressive jazz track, as in the style of Miles Davis.

    "Nothing Personal" also compares to Miles Davis in a lounge act atmosphere. Not only that, each instrument gets all the attention. The piano, the drums, bass,guitar, and of course, the saxophone. "Cost Of Living" is nice soothing jazz, just as soothing as another great jazz classic song, "This Masquerade." Jazz Fusion is at its best, on "Original Rays." Other great jazz bands to compare this to, are Weather Report, and Spyro Gyra. (Yet Weather Report is highly compared, of the two.) The album closes with a bonus track, "My One And Only Love." Again, the instruments stand out, and on this track, they are the guitar, and the saxophone.

    The standout on the guitar belongs to another jazz great, Pat Metheny. His guitar playing is terrific, just as Brecker's saxophone. The other musicians on this album, were Kenny Kirkland (keyboards), Charlie Haden (double bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums). Charlie Haden has also made a name for himself, in recording his own albums.

    Michael Brecker standouts as a true and great Jazz album. It has upbeat and romantic jazz that any jazz lover, and music lover also will enjoy. This album is a must for your Jazz music collection. Michael Brecker released many albums in his lifetime. Likewise, his involvements with many bands and artists is a very impressive list. Unfortunately, he passed away at the young age of 57, in 2007. He was diagnosed with the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in 2005. He was unable to find a matching stem cell donor, although he receive a partial matching stem cell transplant. By late 2006, he seemed to be recovering, although the treatment proved not to be a cure. His last performance was with Herbie Hancock, at Carnegie Hall, on June 23, 2006. Michael Brecker died from complications of leukemia in New York City, on January 13, 2007.

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    Josh Groban--In Concert