The Practice Notebooks of Michael Brecker: A Glimpse into the Mind of a Jazz Legend

jazz michael brecker

Unveiling the mysterious work behind the extraordinary talent of saxophonist Michael Brecker

Michael Brecker

Introduction: The Man Behind the Music

When it comes to jazz legends, Michael Brecker stands tall among the greats. A saxophonist with exceptional technical prowess and emotional depth, Brecker has inspired countless musicians with his innovative playing. In a recent publication by Sher Music Co, the world is given a rare glimpse into the mind and practice routine of this icon, through the release of The Practice Notebooks of Michael Brecker.

Sher Music Co, founded by Chuck Sher, has long been dedicated to promoting jazz education and literature. In this article, we dive into the background of this groundbreaking publication and explore the insights it offers into the life and work of Michael Brecker.

The Origin of the Notebooks


Brecker’s practice notebooks have been housed at William Paterson University since his passing in 2007. For the first time, they are being made available to the public. In an interview with LondonJazz News, Chuck Sher explained that he felt called on by the universe to help make jazz music grow and thrive, and publishing Brecker’s notebooks was a serendipitous opportunity that aligned with this mission.

The Significance of Brecker’s Practice Notes

Many jazz musicians keep practice notes, but Michael Brecker’s are particularly significant due to his extraordinary technical ability and profound emotional impact on the jazz world. The notebooks offer valuable insight into the building blocks of his musical language and the source material that influenced his solos.

From Notebooks to Publication

The original notebooks comprised approximately 800 pages of material. The published version excludes irrelevant content, such as transcriptions of other musicians’ solos or phone numbers. The remaining entries have not been altered, preserving the authenticity of Brecker’s work. David Dempsey, the curator of the Michael Brecker Archives at William Paterson University, deserves special recognition for his efforts in preserving and organizing the material for publication.

New Insights into Brecker’s World

While many Michael Brecker transcriptions and resources have been available for years, The Practice Notebooks of Michael Brecker provide unique insights into the development of his ideas and musical vocabulary. The publication includes first-hand accounts from some of his bandmates, who shared their experiences and memories of practicing with Brecker, revealing the intensity of his drive to become the best musician he could be.

A Book for All Musicians

The book is published in concert pitch, with the intent of encouraging musicians to practice the material in all keys, as Brecker himself often did. The phrases and techniques in the notebooks can be adapted to various playing styles, making this publication valuable not only for those who wish to incorporate Brecker’s style into their own playing but for all musicians seeking to refine their craft.

Michael Brecker Playing

The Legacy of Michael Brecker

As time goes on, the impact of Michael Brecker’s work on the saxophone world and the jazz community as a whole continues to grow. The Practice Notebooks of Michael Brecker is an invaluable resource for musicians, providing a unique insight into the mind and work of one of the most influential jazz musicians in history.

For those interested in delving deeper into the world of Michael Brecker, the Practice Notebooks can be purchased from Sher Music Co.

The Michael Brecker Archive at William Paterson University also offers a wealth of information and resources on the life and work of this extraordinary artist.

About Me

I’m Dr. Miles Beaumont from the charming town of York in the UK. I’ve spent over three decades as a medical doctor, helping people and contributing to important research. I graduated from Oxford University, and ever since, I’ve devoted myself to improving the health and lives of others.

When I’m not practicing medicine, you’ll find me soaking up the world of jazz music. It’s been a passion of mine since I turned 30, and I’ve been an active part of York’s jazz scene ever since. Whether it’s going to local gigs, listening to records at home, or just enjoying the rhythmic and improvisational magic of jazz, it’s a big part of who I am.