Michael Brecker, considered by many to be the most influential tenor saxophonist since John Coltrane, succumbed to leukemia on Saturday, Jan. 13. The 11-time Grammy Award-winner had been battling myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a cancer of the blood marrow, since 2005. He was 57.
Brecker, born in Philadelphia, Penn., on March 29, 1949, began his musical career in his teens, playing rock and R&B before moving to jazz, allowing him to fit comfortably within many genres. In 1969, he moved to New York, where he joined early fusion group Dreams, which also included his brother Randy on trumpet and drummer Billy Cobham. Brecker played with Horace Silver from 1973 to 1974 before co-leading the commercially successful Brecker Brothers throughout most of the ’70s.