BRECKER BROTHERS , U.S. jazz musicians. michael brecker (1949–2007), saxophonist, flutist, pianist, and randy brecker (1945– ), trumpeter, pianist, are unusually good weathervanes for jazz history since the 1970s. The two Philadelphia-born brothers played rock, jazz-rock, fusion jazz, and neo-bop in turn as each of these genres rose and have generally been among the most gifted practitioners of whatever musical language they have chosen. Their father was a piano player and both parents were avid jazz fans, so perhaps their career path was inevitable. Randy took up the trumpet in the third grade and by high school was playing with local rhythm and blues bands. He excelled in the jazz program at the University of Indiana and, after the school's Big Band won a competition in 1965, was part of a group sent to Europe and the Middle East by the State Department. He stayed on for three months in Europe as a freelance trumpeter before moving to New York in 1966. Michael followed him quickly, spending a year at Indiana before heading to New York in 1970. Randy had already made his breakthrough, playing with several well-regarded big bands, then joining the nascent Blood, Sweat and Tears for their first album in 1968. He recorded his first session as the group's leader that year, with 19-year-old Michael also playing on the album.
The two brothers became an integral part of the growing fusion scene, forming Dreams with drummer Billy Cobham, and eventually putting together their own band, The Brecker Brothers. Their first album under that name was nominated for four Grammy Awards. The band broke up in 1982, in no small part due to the pressures of other commitments. They co-owned the jazz club Seventh Avenue South from 1977 to 1987 and both musicians were in constant demand for recording sessions (Michael alone appeared on over 500 recordings). As fusion jazz gradually turned into the more soporific "smooth jazz," both brothers returned to their roots in be-bop.
"Brecker, Michael and Randy," in: Music Web Encyclopaedia of Popular Music, at www.musicweb.uk.net; I. Carr, "Michael Brecker," in: Jazz: The Rough Guide (1995); idem, "Randy Brecker," ibid.; R. Cook and B. Morton, "Michael Brecker," in: The Penguin Guide to Jazz on cd: Fourth Edition (1998).
[George Robinson (2nd ed.)]