Table of Contents
Brecker’s career as a jazz musician traces its origins to the music of John Coltrane. He began his studies on clarinet in school, and switched to tenor sax later in life.
In 1969 he co-founded Dreams, a pioneering fusion group that combined elements of jazz with rock, R&B and funk. They released two adventurous albums that have since become collector’s items.
Early Life and Education
Born in Philadelphia, Brecker grew up in a musical family. His father, a lawyer, took his son to jazz concerts and would lead the family in jam sessions.
He started out on clarinet, moving to alto sax in eighth grade and settling on tenor sax in tenth grade. He was exposed to a variety of music styles and influenced by the jazz of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.
After graduating from Indiana University in 1969, he moved to New York City with his brother Randy Brecker. Together they formed a band called Dreams, which became a pioneering fusion band and recorded several highly influential albums.
John Becker was an influential jazz saxophonist, composer, and educator. He recorded and performed for many years with a variety of bands and artists.
He was a founding member of Dreams, a fusion jazz-rock band. He also played with a number of other musicians, including Horace Silver and Michael Brecker.
As a soloist, he was nominated for several Grammys, and he recorded a number of albums as a leader. He was a member of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters II band and toured with Paul Simon.
He and his older brother Randy formed the Brecker Brothers, a fusion group that became popular in the mid-1970s. Their horn lines were complex and often interwoven with rock back beats and bold synthesizers.
Achievements and Honors
Brecker was the most widely-recorded jazz saxophonist of his time. He produced more than 900 albums as a sideman, and won 11 Grammy Awards for his work on those records.
His tenor sax playing, which was influenced by the jazz greats John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, combined an improvisatory flair with the timbres of rock music, creating a unique, recognizable sound that had an immediate impact on young sax players.
In his later years, Brecker shed the grandstanding pyrotechnics of his early career and developed subtler colors and greater contrast in his improvisation. He also expanded his leadership horizons, working with a larger band on some of his more innovative music.
In addition to his own bands, Brecker performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of jazz and pop giants. He recorded or performed with Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Chet Baker, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, McCoy Tyner, Pat Metheny and many others.
A self-effacing, pace-setting saxophonist who was a great artist and a great human being. Brecker died of leukemia in 2007.
During his career, he appeared on nearly 900 albums as a soloist or sideman with bands from both the jazz and pop genres. He teamed with Paul Simon and James Taylor, among others.
The book also focuses on Brecker’s battle with heroin addiction and the efforts he made to help other musicians. Milkowski (Legends of Jazz; Keith Richards: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Life) tells the story with a great deal of passion and energy.
After he was diagnosed with MDS, a rare form of cancer that affects the bone marrow’s ability to produce healthy blood cells, Brecker and his wife started a worldwide search for a bone marrow donor. They raised tens of thousands of dollars for testing, and eventually connected dozens of donors.
John Brecker is a lawyer and a Chartered Alternatives Investment Analyst with extensive experience in growing an alternative investment fund from inception to billions of investor capital. He was one of the founding partners of Longacre Fund Management, LLC.
His net worth is estimated at $1 million. He is also a partner at Hamilton Lane, an alternative investment management firm.
During the 1960s, he formed a jazz-rock fusion group Blood, Sweat & Tears, before joining pianist Horace Silver’s quintet. Afterward, he joined his brother Michael in Dreams, and later the Brecker Brothers Band.
He played on hundreds of albums, both as a band member and as a guest soloist, putting his stamp on a wide variety of pop and rock songs. He also contributed to several books on jazz history.