A week ago, a New York Times article by Ben Ratliff covered the recent JVC Festival at Carnegie Hall where Herbie Hancock performed with some old friends including Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland and Brian Blade. On Hancock's "One Finger Snap," the audience was lucky enough to hear a surprise guest performer: Michael Brecker.
A little over a year ago (spring of 2005), Brecker was diagnosed with a myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which affects the bone marrow's production of blood cells. After going through treatments and eventually getting a half-matching transplant from his daughter (though it hasn't worked as his family had hoped), he no longer shows signs of developing leukemia and has actually resumed playing for short periods and is writing some new material for EWI.
Though Ratliff notes Brecker's sound was not quite as vigorous as usual, his enthusiasm and determination to perform makes the jazz world hopeful of his recovery. Read the full story here. Also, this month's JazzTimes gave us an update on his situation and published a touching tribute to him: a collage of reflections, anecdotes and good wishes from some of his fellow musicians and colleagues. Dave Liebman is an especially close friend of Brecker's and also gives occasional updates in his monthly newsletter, Intervals (see entries for March 2006 and April 2006).
Brecker's health is returning but is still in transition and somewhat uncertain. To find out how you can help, including how to contribute to the Time Is of the Essence Fund, visit MichaelBrecker.com.