Michael Brecker Talking Jazz
I first met Michael Brecker more than ten years ago, at the Montreux jazz festival. We were both part of a contingent that had been sent by an American record label to make several live albums (they’re cheaper that way). We all went to Switzerland several days prior to the performance, with the idea that we would rehearse once we got there. In fact, it never happened. And as the time to play drew near, I, for one, became increasingly concerned that the band wouldn't know the material. I tried to arrange a last-minute rehearsal in the backstage bar. Only Michael showed up. He asked me what key some of the songs were in and said, "Don't worry, it will be great." He was right, of course, and the record that was made that day stands as evidence. And Michael Brecker, in particular, can be heard playing with a confidence and self-abandonment that characterizes all the great bebop players. So it is curious, then, to know that Michael Brecker lived for many years in the psychological (and ofttimes musical) shadow of his older brother, Randy, and tends to be hyper-critical of his own musical performances. Michael's reticence to step out in front as a leader is particularly ironic, inasmuch as his saxophone work is generally considered by musicians and critics alike to be among the more significant contributions to the "fusion" and post-bebop idioms. This has created a shyness in Michael that is fading, as he exerts his own musical leadership and guides his solo recordings to the top of the jazz charts.