All week the SNJO and the inspirational Randy Brecker have been performing the uplifting and effervescent music of his dear brother, the sensational, gentle and humble Michael Brecker.
With the volunteers from the Anthony Nolan Trust, who joined us on tour, we’ve tried to make people aware of how YOU can save a life, whether it’s someone you know or don’t.
In 2007 my heart sank deeply when I heard that Michael Brecker had passed away from leukemia after a two year long battle with MDS, as he was unable to find a matching stem cell donor. If he had found a match, he’d probably be alive today.
I first met Michael in Edinburgh when I was 15 years old. We were playing on a TV show called Jazz at the Gateway hosted by Niels Henning ØP. I heard him practicing rhythm changes in the green room and was so overwhelmed by his virtuosity I went quickly over to him and said, “Hi! You sound amazing! Who are you?” He replied, “Michael Brecker, who are you?” I asked for his autograph and he signed it adding, “Keep Playing”. Throughout my life, when a young musician asks for my autograph I also write “Keep Playing”. It reminds me of the inspiration I felt when I heard Michael Brecker for the very first time and the incentive he gave me to work harder and become a better musician.
He was one of the most humble human beings I’d ever met, and after that encounter I followed each note of his illustrious career with joy and jaw-dropping amazement. Over the last 19 years, I wrote, met and talked with him on numerous occasions. We almost toured with Lovano in 2003 and I regret it never happened, as I would have cherished being so close to the source of his unique sound and genius. Now, his tenor saxophone & EWI remains silent but his recordings and soul will live on. I miss him greatly. He joins an extraordinary league of great inspirational innovative figures the world will never see again: Coltrane, Miles, Armstrong, Getz, Bird, Lester…..
If you don’t have it already please buy a copy of his PILGRIMAGE recording – the playing and compositions are absolutely astounding!
The Anthony Nolan Trust saves the lives of people with blood cancer. Every day, they match remarkable donors willing to donate their blood stem cells to people who desperately need lifesaving treatment. They always need new donors. Be a match, save a life.