Word came hard and fast: Michael Brecker was gone. And for a number of musicians and fans at the 2007 International Association for Jazz Education Conference, there was comfort in solidarity. My experience with the news was more private: I was working at the computer, and called up an online menu of Brecker performances, spanning more than a quarter century.
There was the artist as a young man, carving up “Invitation” and “Oleo.” There he was onstage with Paul Simon in Central Park. And there he was in recent years, playing with groups I had seen and heard. Somehow this accumulation of clips, more like a dream montage than a highlight reel, encouraged a sense of connection. The footage captured the figure, in a way that recordings couldn’t match. (A similar search for the reclusive Alice Coltrane, whose passing was almost concurrent, didn’t yield much at the time.)