That was Michael Brecker

Micheal BreckerThe second entry for these are a few of my favorite things is dedicated to one of the greatest musicians that I ever had the luck to see performing live, Micheal Brecker.

They say that he was 57 when he passed away on 13th January this year. I am not so sure. I think that he lived a thousand lives at the same time or one could not explain how he managed to play so many gigs around the world and play in so many records if he didn’t have at least 500 years available to do so.

I was quite saddened by the fact that when he died there was no big report of his departure and the achievement of his life in mainstream media, at least not in the UK. I suspect that many music hacks regarded him as a good session man and not much more. Those misguided opinions are only the product of prejudice against his pop frequentations and are also often not immune from a dose of envy that professional critics may behold against those that can actually do something suspiciously well. In fact whenever I saw Micheal Brecker playing I was hypnotized and led to a beautiful place where I could drink at the fountain of the truth on saxophone playing.

I lost the count of the times I saw him playing. I saw him playing in trio, quartet, quintet, orchestra, acoustic group, electric group and solo.
I once managed to sneak in a theatre in the afternoon and saw him practicing, he noticed me but allowed me to stay. He was the nicest person you can think of. I kept quiet and marveled.
Once I attended a workshop with him (I play alto sax), he was very tired having of course played the previous night so he mostly sat with his sunglasses on, told us a few things about himself and very gently gave us lesson one. How to correctly mount a reed on the mouthpiece and how to break it in. Then how to make your own exercises. Sounds basic but they were probably the most useful tips on saxophone playing I ever heard.

The last time that I saw him he played solo! Everybody knows that it is not really the thing to do for a sax to play a full gig solo, it’s not that kind of instrument. Micheal Brecker knew better. I saw him, he did it. And it was great! It was here in London on 9th November 2001, at the Union Chapel.
Now browsing the net I found this recording of that very gig and it’s got excellent crisp sound too.

And as I sat listening to it the most incredible thing happened. My heart stopped, my jaw dropped! I heard my voice! The sound of Brecker’s saxophone is very clear and floating over a mesmerized audience but there is this one member of the public that from time to time you can hear loud and clear yelling for joy and that’s my voice. I’m always very expressive when I see somebody playing it right. The voice is there at start, saying yeah, then you can even hear me holding my breath (that’s what I do, I’m a very participating listener, sometimes I just can’t breathe, I can only listen), then yelling again and again and finally shouting for joy at the triumphant end. The person that recorded this unauthorized video was evidently sitting next to me.

It’s now 2:30 am, I discovered this recording three hours ago and I’m still listening to it going on a loop over and over again and I still can’t quite believe it.

Credit where it’s due: the link to the video comes from this website on Micheal Brecker that’s a work of love from a committed fan and collector.

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3 Responses to “That was Michael Brecker”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    Hi I am looking to buy a recording of that Union Chapel gig – do you know where I can get it? Thanks!

  2. Max Says:

    You could try contacting the person that runs the website linked at the bottom of the post, he’s a collector and trades Brecker material, he doesn’t sell but would possible make a copy in exchange for other collectable material on Brecker.

  3. Rane Says:

    hey, i was wondering if u had any info on what brecker said about like long tones and developing a personal sound. really, he talked about pertaining to technical proficiantcy on the sax

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