Michael Brecker was such a powerful and masterful tenor saxophonist that one does not think of him as a composer. However, with the release of The Comet’s Tail, a set of eight Brecker compositions, one can make the case that he was almost as innovative in his writing as in his playing. The project had its genesis while Brecker was still alive. Chuck Owen, the professor of jazz studies at the University of South Florida and the artistic director of the USF Center for Jazz Composition, teamed up with Dave Stamps, the managing director of the center. They organized the International Jazz Arranging Competition in Honor of Michael Brecker in 2006. Fred Stride won the contest with his complex and colorful arrangement of “Peep.” Other arrangements were commissioned from Vince Mendoza and Gil Goldstein to augment charts written by Stamps and Owen. A series of concerts and recordings were planned and, while Brecker’s death in Jan. 2007 changed the initial mood of exhilaration, the music went on.
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