Monday, February 19, 2007

Michael Brecker Memorial

In the January 29 issue of Time, page 18, I came across a death notice of Michael Brecker, 57, "11-time Grammy winner widely regarded as the most influential jazz saxophonist since John Coltrane; of leukemia; in New York City."

To be honest, I had never heard of Mr. Brecker until I read this short paragraph about his life and recent death. So a I did some searching and found an article that tells more of the story.

Michael Brecker was diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), an early stage of leukemia in which one's bone marrow cannot produce enough healthy blood cells, sometime after that. His wife Susan had sent out a plea via mass email, "'s critical that he has a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant (which has nothing to do with embryonic stem cells). The initial search for a donor, including Michael's siblings and children, has not resulted in a suitable match. We now hope to have as many people tested as possible that share a similar genetic background as my husband."

The appeal for help has also been posted atop the official Michael Brecker website since soon after the 57-year-old saxophonist first announced that he had been diagnosed with MDS. Despite worldwide publicity, a donor match was never found. An experimental cell transplant procedure was performed on Michael Brecker in 2005 but was not as successful as the surgeons and medical experts had hoped.

His website offer details on a memorial service to be held on February 20 in New York City.

More on his life:

His work as a sideman was featured prominently on TV and movie soundtracks, including "The Wiz," "Warriors," "Footloose," "9 ½ days," "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and The Bill Cosby Show. Michael Becker also performed as part of the dynamic house band for NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in the 1980s, and recorded with popular artists as diverse a Dire Straits, Herbie Hancock, Todd Rundgren, Manhattan Transfer and funk rock icons, Parliament.

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