Let’s make one thing clear. Michael Brecker didn’t want to be honored, saluted or celebrated. Nonetheless, since being diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in 2004, Brecker has been the recipient of innumerable honors, benefits and well wishes. More so than for any jazz artist I’ve ever seen.
I believe there are at least three reasons for this unsolicited attention. First, Brecker made public his condition, something many musicians don’t care to do. Second, people felt empowered by the knowledge that there was something they could do-specifically, sign up for the National Marrow Donor Program-even though the direct benefit to Brecker could be largely negligible, as no suitable donor for him has been found. Third, despite being a major figure on the jazz scene for more than 30 years, Brecker is almost preternaturally humble and unpretentious. It’s as if the less attention he wanted, the more he got.