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A Baker's Dozen Totally Obscure Sideman Sessions Where Michael Brecker Went Full-On Beast Mode

Every Michael Brecker fan knows about his massive output as an in-demand studio session player during the 1970s, 1980s and beyond. Keyboardist Larry Goldings, who played with Mike's organ group, following the release of 1999’s Time Is Of the Essence, and also with the Brecker/Metheny Special Quartet on a 2000 European tour, once commented to an audience at the Jazz Alley in Seattle, when Mike wasn’t able to make the gig due to injury: “Michael couldn’t make it tonight. He hurt his lower back trying to lift his discography.”

Cue the rimshot!

Michael logged in over 900 recording sessions as a sideman or guest soloist. The most well known of these are sessions for iconic artists like James Taylor (“Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” from 1972’s One Man Dog), Paul Simon (“Still Crazy After All These Years” from 1975’s Still Crazy After All These Years), Carly Simon (“Mockingbird” from 1974’s Hotcakes) along with guest appearances on albums by Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren. Even Michael’s work alongside brother Randy, playing the tight horn parts on recordings by P-Funk, and Mike’s killing solo on Cameo’s “Candy” (from 1986’s Word Up!) are well known by funk fans. But there’s tons more where that came from.

In researching my book “Ode to a Tenor Titan: The Life and Times and Music of Michael Brecker,” I came across countless obscure sessions where Michael’s tenor presence was prominent; absolutely brimming with that special something that came to define his genius over nearly four decades. The list is way more voluminous that even I know. (One can scour the pages the Facebook Group In Honor or Michael Brecker to follow some of these omissions posted by dedicated fans). But I’ve picked out my top Baker’s Dozen Obscure Sessions Where Michael Brecker Went Full-On Beast Mode. See if you have heard of any of these:

1. Juliette Gréco, “Né Quelque Part” (from 2006’s Le Temps D'Une Chanson)

2. Moncef Genoud, “Aqua” (from 2005’s Aqua)

3. Vitto Rezza and 5 After 4, “Manhattan Bounce” (from 2005’s Drums of Avila)

4. Two Siberians, “Allergic to Gravity” (from 2005’s Out of Nowhere)

5. Gildas Boclé & Jean-Baptiste Boclé, “Candy Men” (from 2001’s Celtic Tales: Pas an Dour)

6. Rolf Kühn, “Working Inside” (from 2000’s Inside Out)

7. Kenneth Silversten, “The Spring” (from 2000’s One Day in October)

8. Papo Vázquez, “The Reverend” (from 2000’s At the Point, Vol. 2)

9. Will Boulware, “It Ain’t No Use” (from 1976’s Crystal Green)

10. Kimo Williams, “Paumalu Palace” (from 2001’s Tracking)

11. Milton Cardona, “Freedom of Expression (Shakeres) (from 1999’s Cambucha)

12. Robert Jospé, “Calling Miss Khadjija” (from 1999’s Blue Blaze)

13. David Garfield, “Tune for Tony” (from 2004’s Giving Back)

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