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August 27, 2005

Jazz Saxophonist Michael Brecker

Written by
cindy mcleod

Jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker has been silenced musically by a life threatening illness, but his voice is being heard in another, more insistent manner. Brecker, of the jazz-famous Brecker brothers, is engaged in a fight for his life, and is currently being treated for myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of cancer in which the bone marrow fails to produce healthy amounts of blood cells.

Diagnosed over a year ago after suffering a sharp pain in his back during a concert in Japan, Brecker has just been released from hospital after a seven-week chemotherapy treatment. As his health continued to fail, the biggest challenge he faced was finding a suitable bone marrow donor, and to this day, he is still searching. It has caused him to use his voice within the musical community and beyond to raise awareness about the disease and the desperate need for donors to give to the various Bone Marrow Donor programs globally. In appealing to the media for attention for the cause, he says “It’s something that doesn’t come naturally´┐Ż I obviously miss playing and writing music”… “On the other hand, this whole experience has allowed me to be a conduit to attract attention for a cause that’s much larger than me for people to go get tested (for the marrow donor program) because I know a lot of lives will be saved.”

Brecker, who was born in Philadelphia, moved to New York as a young man, and soon became considered a virtuoso, his body work with such luminaries as Horace Silver, John McLaughlin, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and a long list of other jazz masters has been recognized with an impressive 11 Grammy Awards. He is perhaps best known for his work in the jazz/fusion idiom, notably being a founding member in the late 70’s of ‘Steps Ahead’, the all-star ensemble who were known for their adventurous and spiritual music that reflected the influence of John Coltrane. Along with his trumpeter brother Randy, he formed a horn section unrivaled, and their combined work, along with his other credits, total a discography that numbers more than 800 recordings in the jazz, pop and rock idioms.

The international profile he has gained makes him an effective spokesman for the appeal for bone marrow donors throughout the world, and it’s not the first time fame has taken a step away from the path that a great artist has carved in the jazz music genre to express a powerful voice for another cause. May God bless him with a matching donor very soon, and grant him the life to continue to create beautiful and seminal music for us all to enjoy. Our prayers are with you, Mr. Brecker.

*Please visit the nearest Blood Donor Clinic in your area and give a sample to the Blood Marrow Program. You could save a life!

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