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MICHAEL BRECKER

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Michael Leonard Brecker was born on March 29, 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in the suburb of Cheltenham Township. Exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist, he grew up as part of the generation of jazz musicians who saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option. He began studying clarinet then moved to alto saxophone in school, and eventually settling on the tenor as his instrument of choice.

Graduating high school he entered Indiana University for a year before moving to New York City in 1969. He carved out a niche for himself as a dynamic and exciting jazz soloist and first made his mark at age 21 as a member of the jazz-rock band Dreams that included his older brother, trumpeter Randy Brecker and drummer Billy Cobham. Though the band was short-lived it attracted Miles Davis to attend some of their gigs.

Brecker went on to work with Horace Silver and Billy Cobham before teaming with his brother to form the Brecker Brothers. Following the jazz-rock trends of the time, but with more attention to structured arrangements, a heavier backbeat, and a stronger rock influence, the band stayed together from 1975 to 1982, with consistent success and musicality.

Michael was in great demand as a soloist and sideman from mainstream jazz to mainstream rock and played on over 700 albums with James Taylor, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Lou Reed, Donald Fagen, Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Zappa, Parliament Funkadelic and Joni Mitchell as well as Frank Sinatra, Herbie hancock, Chick Corea, Chet Baker, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorious, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones. And that is the short list.

During the early 1980s, he was a member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band, co-led the group Steps Ahead, he recorded a solo album ning him back towards more traditional jazz. As a leader throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Michael won multiple Grammy Awards of which one was for Directions In Music: Live At Massey Hall with Herbie Hancock and Roy Hargrove. He consistently sold out his solo and group tours in major cities worldwide.

While performing at the Mount Fuji Jazz Festival in 2004, Brecker experienced a sharp pain in his back. Shortly thereafter in 2005, he was diagnosed with the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS. Unable to find a matching stem cell donor, and an experimental partial match that proved unsuccessful, he played his final public appearance with Herbie Hancock at Carnegie Hall in 2006.

On January 13, 2007, tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker passed away from complications of leukemia in New York City. He was awarded two posthumous Grammy awards for his involvement on his brother Randy’s 2005 album Some Skunk Funk, his final recording, Pilgrimage that same year, and again posthumously awarded two additional Grammy Awards for this album in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album, bringing his Grammy total to 15. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music and inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

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SPARTACUS

Hollywood On 52nd Street

Love Theme From Spartacus, composed by Alex North for the 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick, starred and produced by Kirk Douglas. The supporting cast included Laurene Olivier, John Gavin, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis and Peter Ustinov, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, one of the four the film received. The film became the biggest moneymaker in Universal Studios’ history, until it w as surpassed by Airport in 1970.

The Story: It was inspired by the life story of the leader of a slave revolt in antiquity, Spartacus, and the events of the Third Servile War. In the 1st century BC, the Roman Republic has slid into corruption, its menial work done by armies of slaves. One of these, a proud and gifted man named Spartacus, is so uncooperative in his servitude that he is sentenced to fight as a gladiator. Spartacus forms a quiet relationship with a serving woman named Varinia, whom he refuses to rape when she is sent to “entertain” him in his cell. Rebellion ensues, the senate war is lost, and Spartacus is ultimately crucified but Varinia shows him his new born son before he dies.


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DONALD BROWN

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Donald Ray Brown was born on March 28, 1954 in Hernando, Mississippi but was raised in Memphis, Tennessee where he learned to play trumpet and drums in his youth. From 1972 to 1975 he studied at Memphis State University by which time he had made piano his primary instrument.

Donald was inducted into Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 1981 to 1982, then took teaching positions at Berklee College of Music from 1983 to 1985. He went on to accept a position at the University of Tennessee in 1988.

 Brown has recorded extensively as a leader amassing eighteen albums for Evidence, Muse, Sunnyside Records and since 1996 for the Space Time record label.  As a sideman he was a part of the recording sessions for three Art Blakey albums – Killer Joe, Keystone 3 and Feeling Good. Jazz pianist Donald Brown continues to perform, record and tour.

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VICTOR BAILEY

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Victor Bailey was born on March 27, 1960 in Philadelphia, New Jersey. He attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music after being disqualified from naval service due to asthma.

Bailey has been extremely active on the jazz scene recording seven albums as a leader. However, he has been more prolific as a sideman recording and touring with the likes of jazz legends and musicians such as Sonny Rollins, Miriam Makeba, Larry Coryell, Lenny White, Kenny Garrett, Roy Haynes, Kenny Kirkland, Sadao Watanabe, Hamiet Bluiet, Kevin Eubanks, Bobby Broom and Steps Ahead among numerous others.

Victor has also worked with Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, Sting, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Tom Brown, Najee, Olu Dara and Patrice Rushen. He has a Victor Bailey Signature acoustic bass released by Fender, as well as the Victor Bailey Jazz Bass (Artist Series), available in 4, 5-string, fretted and fretless versions. Jazz bassist Victor Bailey, best known for his contributions to Weather Report during their final years from 1982 to 1986, continues to perform, record and tour.

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TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto was born on March 23, 1948 in Niigata, Japan. He started to play the piano when he was in primary school. In junior high school, he played the trumpet. His interest in jazz began when he first heard Art Blakey’s tunes in the French movie, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”. It inspired him to return to the piano, to perfect his technique.

Yamamoto was largely self-taught as a pianist, although he did have piano lessons as a child. He attended Nihon University and as a student there, he played professionally, first as an accompanist to pop singer Micky Curtis and the Samurais touring Europe in 1967.

In 1973 Tsuyoshi formed his own band while polishing his piano skills and gleaning influence from Bobby Timmons, Wynton Kelly, Red Garland and Randy Weston. The next year, he became house pianist at Misty, a Tokyo jazz club and recorded his debut as leader.

He played major international festivals in the late 1970s. While living in New York for a year he performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, Sam Jones, Billy Higgins, Sonny Stitt and Elvin Jones (his favorite drummer) among others. He has recorded fourteen albums as a leader and sideman and continues to perform and record.

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto has a very melodic technique and phrasing with a use of block chords in ballads. The composer and pianist continues to perform and record.

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