Tenor saxophonist and composer Michael Brecker is an eleven-time Grammywinner,
and the first to win both the "Best Jazz Instrumental Performance"
and "Best Jazz Instrumental Solo" two years in a row. As a result of his
stylistic and harmonic innovations, Michael is among the most studied
instrumentalists in music schools throughout the world today.
Born into a musical household in 1949, Michael’s father played jazz on the
record player for his sons and took Michael and his older brother Randy to
see, among others, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington.
While Randy took up trumpet, Michael launched his studies on clarinet and
alto sax; moved by the genius of Coltrane, Brecker switched to tenor sax in
high school. After studying, as did his brother, at the University of Indiana,
Michael moved to New York City, landing work with several bands before cofounding
the pioneering jazz-rock group Dreams in 1970. In 1973, Michael
joined his brother in the frontline of pianist/composer Horace Silver’s
quintet. The following year, the siblings branched off to form the Brecker
Brothers, one of the most innovative and successful jazz-funk fusion bands
of the decade. Michael and Randy also operated the popular downtown
Manhattan jazz club, Seventh Avenue South. Jam sessions with
keyboardist/vibes player Mike Maineiri, bassist Eddie Gomez, and
drummer Steve Gadd led to the 1979 formation of Steps Ahead. With
Peter Erskine later replacing Gadd, the all-star quartet recorded seven
albums while ascending to worldwide acclaim.
Michael has recorded and performed with a virtual Who’s Who of jazz and
pop giants in the 70s and 80s, including McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock,
Chick Corea, Chet Baker, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Charles
Mingus, Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorius, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra,
Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan, Pat Metheny and Frank Zappa. Michael
cut his first record as a leader in 1987.
That solo debut, Michael Brecker, was voted "Jazz Album of the Year" in both
Down Beat and Jazziz magazines. Its follow-up, Don't Try This At Home,
garnered Brecker his first Grammy. After investigating new rhythmic
concepts on 1990’s Now You See It ... Now You Don't, and subsequently
touring for a year and a half with Paul Simon, Michael reunited with Randy
for 1992’s Return of the Brecker Brothers. The Breckers’ Out of the Loop
(1994) and Michael’s Tales From the Hudson (1997) put additional Grammys
on the saxophonist’s shelf, leading to Michael being named "Best Soloist of
the Year" by JazzLife and "Jazz Man of the Year" by Swing Journal. At about
the same time, Michael appeared on Herbie Hancock’s The New Standard
(Verve) and McCoy Tyner’s Infinity (Impulse!), followed by extensive
touring with each piano titan.
Following 1998’s Two Blocks From the Edge and 1999’s Time Is of the
Essence (featuring Metheny, organist Larry Goldings, and drummers Elvin
Jones, Jeff "Tain" Watts and Bill Stewart). Brecker’s seventh solo album,
Nearness of You: The Ballad Book, features a dream ensemble of fellow jazz
giants—Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Haden and Jack
DeJohnette—who had never before recorded an album together. Produced
by Pat Metheny, with legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor adding his
voice to the peerless musical alchemy on two tracks, Nearness of You was
named "Record of the Year," and Brecker was named "Artist of the Year" in
both the Critics’ and Readers’ Polls of Japan’s Swing Journal, which has the
largest circulation of any jazz magazine in the world. It also won two
In June 2002, Brecker, Hancock and Roy Hargrove released Directions in
Music, a live concert at Toronto's Massey Hall, which celebrates the music of
Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Directions In Music won a Grammy for
“Best Jazz Instrumental Album.”
The Directions project recently performed
for hundreds of thousands of concertgoers, making it among one of the
highest profile jazz events in recent years.
Brecker began 2003 creating his first large ensemble record. Wide Angles
features the 15-piece Michael Brecker Quindectet. Wide Angles has since
appeared on dozens of “Best Jazz Records of the Year” lists and won two
Grammys in February, 2004.
Brecker took his New York based quindectet on a sold-out tour of Japan. In
the summer of 2004, he will lead a quindectet tour throughout Europe.
Brecker’s accomplishments assure that his career will forever be intertwined
with the history of music. Jazziz magazine said it best: "You’ll find no better
example of stylistic evolution than Michael Brecker, inarguably the most
influential tenor stylist of the last 25 years."