Heads Up International recording artist Michael Brecker is an 11-time Grammy Award winner — the most of any saxophonist, ever. As a result of his harmonic and stylistic innovations, the renowned tenor saxophonist and composer, who is 56, is also the most studied contemporary instrumentalist in music schools throughout the world today. Prior to and during the pursuit of his acclaimed solo career, Brecker has delighted millions through recordings or performances with a virtual “Who’s Who” of jazz and pop giants including Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Parliament Funkadelic, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Pat Metheny, Aerosmith, George Benson, Frank Sinatra, David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Rick James, Frank Zappa, Harry Connick, James Brown, Dave Grusin, Ringo Starr, Steely Dan, Dave Brubeck, John Lennon, Lou Reed, Michael Bolton, Carly Simon, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Billy Joel and Elton John.
Brecker’s blazing signature saxophone sound, however, has been temporarily quieted. He is a patient at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, afflicted with MDS, myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disorder. There is no known single cause of MDS and currently the only curative therapy is a blood stem cell (bone marrow) transplant.
In preparation for his transplant, Brecker is completing his first course of chemotherapy, but as of yet there is no suitable donor. The urgent donor search — which has included Brecker’s siblings and children — has not resulted in a match. Each year, approximately 9,000 people die in the U.S. while waiting for a bone marrow donor.
Brecker is anxious to rejoin his family and begin to work again. He hopes for more people to enter the National Marrow Donor Program Registry [www.marrow.org or 800-MARROW-2] and towards this end, a massive donor drive is currently being organized. As tissue types are inherited, Michael will need a donor of European Jewish extraction.
“So many diseases can be treated and cured by a bone marrow/stem cell transplant, including MDS, which I had never heard of until I was diagnosed with it,” explains Brecker. “By speaking out, I hope to encourage as many people as possible to get tested not only to assist me, but to help thousands of others who are either facing or who will be facing the same challenge with which I’m currently confronted.”
Brecker’s first album for Heads Up has been postponed. “This isn’t about selling records, it’s about trying to help save a man’s life” says Dave Love, President of Heads Up International. “We need to get together and find a donor for Michael as quickly as possible.”Posted by Peter Böhi at August 10, 2005 6:26 AM