Mike was indeed an iconic figure in jazz, but it was always hard for me to see him in that light: To me he was still my kid brother, in whose milk I used to spit when he wasn’t looking.
Always the scientist, he spent the better part of his life in basements, first at our parents’ house outside Philly, where he experimented with his chemistry set until the inevitable explosion. Later in life the chemistry lab morphed into his basement music studio, and music became his greatest experiment. He studied, studied and studied some more, mixing different elements of melody, harmony, rhythm and sound until he came up with a potion that was unique, and one which would be copied by thousands of saxophonists and musicians the world over. Both as a player, and later as a composer, he set the standard. He brought music and musicians from different spheres and cultures together, thus making for a better world. When he was first taken ill he was working on a project fusing Bulgarian folk music and jazz. I thought to myself, Well, he’s really taking it too far out this time! Then later down the line, I heard some of his Logic sequences in his basement, and what I heard was genius, unlike anything he had done before, unlike anything anyone had heard before. At this point he had been sick for two years and he still had the drive to walk down the stairs into his studio to compose and play. But again—that was Mike. Susan, Mike’s wife, is working very hard to try and make sure some of that music sees the light of day.