Saxophonist Jay Beckenstein has fond memories as well as professional respect for the late Michael Brecker, who succumbed to a rare form of blood cancer in January. His influence was enough for Beckenstein and members of his group Spyro Gyra to dedicate their current album, Good To Go-Go, to Brecker's memory.
Beckenstein remembers meeting the Brecker Brothers at a Buffalo, New York recording session for rock-funk artist Rick James, also a Buffalo native who'd spent time playing in Canada. Said Beckenstein: "The first time I ever met Michael Brecker, our band was still in Buffalo and there was a guy who had just come down from Canada that was cutting a record up in Buffalo and his name was Rick James and I got called to do a horn section thing. And I show up to the studio and who is in the horn section? It's me and Michael and Randy Brecker."
Just out of college at that time, Beckenstein says he was already aware of Michael's talents and was more surprised to discover what a nice person he was when he gave the young Beckenstein some positive feedback on his playing. He added: "He was The Man. They're gonna be studying him in school for years. And to be that good and at the same time to be that darned nice and humble. And say to me, who -- I can't light a candle to this guy -- say to me, that what I'm doing is meaningful, just warms your heart."
Good To Go-Go debuted on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart at Number Four last week. The project is the follow-up to Spyro Gyra's 2006 CD Wrapped In A Dream.
By: Janine Coveney
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