NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, who has been fighting the effects of myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disease, for the past three years, was a suprise guest at the Herbie Hancock concert, Herbie's World: Herbie Hancock & Friends, at Carnegie Hall in New York on June 23. Brecker performed just one song, Hancock's 1964 "One Finger Snap," his first on stage appearance since being diagnosed. The concert was part of the JVC Jazz Festival.
Several newspapers weighed in. Ben Ratliff in the New York Times wrote: "Brecker looked slightly tired but otherwise gave it his all, playing long, tumultuous lines at full strength through the song."
Will Friedwald in the New York Sun wrote: "Brecker strode onstage triumphantly, as if he had never been away, as the sold-out audience leapt to its feet in approval…When Brecker reached his high note, almost a multi-phonic climax, it felt like the kind of moment many in the hall would someday tell their grandchildren about."
Friedland also said, "The four men (keyboardist Hancock, basssit Ron Carter, drummer Jack DeJohnette and Brecker) came together in a way I have rarely seen in an all-star jazz concert, and they tore through Hancock's oft-recorded song."
On May 18, Susan Brecker, Michael's wife, posted on his website: "In an effort to treat the pre-leukemic disease MDS, Michael was the recipient of an experimental blood stem cell transplant which did not work as hoped. While there is no longer any leukemia actively present, the prospect of the disease returning is both present and daunting. Michael is currently at home recuperating from various treatments and getting stronger. He is now able to play for brief intervals and is spending time with family and friends." — Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen