×

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.

More Scene

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron attends the 44th Annual

    Alfonso Cuarón to LAFCA: 'Thanks to Your Help We Can Break Down Walls'

    Inclusion was the big winner at the L.A. Film Critics Association Awards, which was held Saturday night at the InterContinental in Century City. “This year’s winners are the most diverse in LAFCA’s 43-year history,” announced its president, Claudia Puig, adding that 14 out of their 18 awards were won by women and people of color. [...]

  • Mandatory Credit: Photo by Max Malandrino/REX/Shutterstock

    Hollywood Power Players Assemble to Save Iconic Deli Nate 'n Al

    A group of Hollywood executives and celebrities have banded together with the intent to save Beverly Hills deli and star haunt Nate ‘n Al, a stone’s throw from tourist destination Rodeo Drive. A consortium of investors including music kingpin Irving Azoff and wife Shelli, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jeff Shell, and Rande Gerber and [...]

  • Charlie Collier, FOX Chief Executive Officer

    'The Passage' Team Talks Diversifying Races, Genders and Ages of Book Characters

    “The Passage” star Saniyya Sidney was unaware that the book version of her character was originally white until her father, a fan of Justin Cronin’s apocalyptic trilogy, informed her during the audition process. “I was like, ‘Oh, she is?'” Sidney told Variety at Thursday’s series premiere in Santa Monica, Calif. “And when I got it, [...]

  • MAYFAIR HOTEL - Ballroom

    The New Space Race Energizes Awards Party Scene

    When planning an elegant A-list dinner for 10 to gala parties for a thousand, event planners have a sophisticated mix of locations to choose from in New York and Los Angeles. Variety looks at new and updated venues that cater to gatherings during Hollywood’s awards season, and throughout the year welcome all kinds of happenings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content