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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

JVC JAZZ FESTIVAL-NEWPORT and Michael Brecker :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

JVC JAZZ FESTIVAL-NEWPORT and Michael Brecker :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily JVC JAZZ FESTIVAL-NEWPORT and Michael Brecker
Posted by: editoron Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - 04:05 PM

Newport, RI--The JVC Jazz Festival-Newport coming up this weekend, August 12, 13 and 14 has just announced that saxophonist Michael Brecker is very ill and will not be able to appear at this year's festival. He was scheduled to perform with Saxophone Summit and also with Steps Ahead 2005, but cannot perform due to his recently diagnosed, very serious illness. Saxophone Summit will feature Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano with Phil Markowitz, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart on Saturday. Saxophonist Bill Evans who appeared with Miles Davis' comeback band in the early '80s will perform in Brecker's stead with Steps Ahead 2005 on Sunday. This impressive band also features vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, guitarist Mike Stern, drummer Steve Smith, and bassist Richard Bona.

Michael Brecker, has been diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), and it is critical that he undergo a marrow stem cell transplant. The initial search for a donor (including Michael's siblings and children) has not yet resulted in a suitable match and Michael's doctors have told his family that they need to explore ALL possible options. This includes a search for an unrelated donor in the worldwide registries through the National Marrow Donor Program. To help find a donor for Michael, and for other patients with the same need, Festival Productions has offered to set up a special tent at the jazz festival, where potential donors can join the National Marrow Donor Program, organized by the Rhode Island Blood Center. The tent will be located next to the Museum of Yachting at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, during the festival on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14.

Anyone joining the National Marrow Donor Program must be between 18 and 60 years old, in good health, and willing to consider giving marrow stem cells to anyone they may match. Most registrants never match anyone but it can mean the difference between life and death when a match is found for someone like Michael.

“I hope to encourage as many people as possible to get tested not just 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 now confronted,” states Michael Brecker.

Here are some important points to understand concerning the potential donor process:

1. Registration in the National Marrow Donor Program is free at the Newport Jazz Festival as the cost of testing is being paid for with a combination of health insurance and a local foundation called Michael's Fund. The name of this foundation coincidentally, but appropriately, shares Michael Brecker's first name. Michael Wrobel of Massachusetts was an eleven year old boy of Eastern European descent who died before a matched donor could be found. His family and friends have continued the important work of supporting donor recruitment for almost ten years.

2. A simple blood test (one tube) is all that is needed to determine a potential donor's bone marrow type. A health history questionnaire is also completed.

3. If a person is found to be a match for a patient, the process of donation is completely confidential. Donor and recipient cannot meet one another for at least one year after donation. And because this is a national program, a donor can choose to donate close to his or her home, not only in Rhode Island.

4. Once a match is found, there are two ways to donate and the choice is always ultimately the donor's. As a result of new technologies, the term “bone marrow transplant” is in part a misnomer. In earlier years, marrow had be extracted from a donor’s marrow. Today at leading cancer centers like Memorial Sloan Kettering, the collecting process rarely occurs this way. A donor is simply connected to a machine through an IV that separates and harvests the blood stem cells from the donor’s blood before the blood returns to the donor through a second IV. Instead of being tethered to a machine for a few hours, some folks still prefer direct marrow collection---where medical technology has also improved. Following anesthesia, marrow—-which continually replenishes every 4-6 weeks---is withdrawn using fine hollow needles in the hip. A sore bottom may result for a few days. In short, whatever the brief discomfort of whichever method that’s used—it’s nothing compared to the virtue and humanity of potentially saving a life.

5. Most patients find their donor match in someone who is a similar ethnic background. That means that a match for Michael would more likely be someone of Eastern European Jewish descent. So if potential donors are in this category, please make a special effort to immediately get tested. Ultimately, one would be doing something not just for Michael, but for so many more patients in a similar situation.


Tenor saxophonist and composer Michael Brecker is an eleven-time Grammy-winner, the most of any saxophonist, ever. As a result of his stylistic and harmonic innovations, Michael is among the most studied instrumentalists in music schools throughout the world today.

Born into a musical household in 1949, Michael’s father played jazz on the record player for his sons and took Michael and his older brother Randy to see, among others, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington. While Randy took up trumpet, Michael launched his studies on clarinet and alto sax; moved by the genius of Coltrane, Brecker switched to tenor sax in high school. After studying, as did his brother, at the University of Indiana, Michael moved to New York City, landing work with several bands before co-founding the pioneering jazz-rock group Dreams in 1970. In 1973, Michael joined his brother in the frontline of pianist/composer Horace Silver’s quintet. The following year, the siblings branched off to form the Brecker Brothers, one of the most innovative and successful jazz-funk fusion bands of the decade. Michael and Randy also operated the popular downtown Manhattan jazz club, Seventh Avenue South. Jam sessions with keyboardist/vibes player Mike Maineiri, bassist Eddie Gomez, and drummer Steve Gadd led to the 1979 formation of Steps Ahead. With Peter Erskine later replacing Gadd, the all-star quartet recorded seven albums while ascending to worldwide acclaim.

Michael has recorded and performed with a virtual Who’s Who of jazz and pop giants including McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, James Taylor, Chick Corea, Chet Baker, George Benson, Quincy Jones, John Lennon, Charles Mingus, Joni Mitchell, Aerosmith, Paul Simon, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan, Pat Metheny, Billy Joel and Elton John.

1 comment:

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