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Saxophonist Brecker dies from MDS

Jazz legend performed on landmark albums

Jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker died Jan. 13 in New York of leukemia after a public battle with with the pre-leukemic disease MDS. He was 57.

He was diagnosed in 2005 and in May, he underwent an unsuccessful experimental stem cell operation.

Doctors had been searching for a suitable bone marrow match for a year but were unable to find the right match.

Brecker, a tenor saxophonist who won 11 Grammy Awards, bounced between hard bop and the fusion music he performed with his brother Randy as the Brecker Brothers. He also contributed to pop music and was a member of Paul Simon’s band in the 1990s.

Born in Philadelphia, Brecker saw jazz performers such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington as a youth. He took up tenor saxophone in high school, having been inspired by John Coltrane.

In New York, he co-founded the jazz-rock group Dreams in 1970 and joined Randy in pianist Horace Silver’s quintet. He also played jazz-funk in the group Steps Ahead.

As a studio musician and sideman, Brecker performed on landmark albums by Bruce Springsteen, George Benson, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny and James Taylor.

Brecker, who lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., is survived by his wife; two children; brother Randy and a sister, Emily.

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