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Brecker Brothers – Some Skunk Funk

What a fitting tribute…

James Taylor & Paul Simon Play Benefit for Late Jazz Great Michael Brecker

James Taylor and Paul Simon paid tribute to late jazz great Michael Brecker with performances and kind words at a cancer benefit for their friend who died in 2007.

Taylor, who Brecker’s widow said had the flu, performed “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” — the first song he played with the jazz saxophonist – in New York City on Tuesday night. Taylor was on guitar as Brecker’s brother, Randy Brecker, played the trumpet.

“I miss him all the time,” Taylor said after the performance. “Michael saved my life and probably a lot of other people. He led me to freedom, really from addiction, and showed a number of us the way.”

He earned a large applause from the crowd of 400 at the event dubbed “The Nearness of You” concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room.

Brecker, who died at age 57, won more than a dozen Grammy Awards and played with a number of iconic artists, including Elton John, Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Taylor. He struggled with myelodysplastic syndrome, a cancer in which the bone marrow stops producing enough healthy blood cells. Tuesday’s benefit for Brecker – the first — raised money to assist two doctors working at Columbia University Medical Center and fighting to cure MDS.

Simon performed “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “The Boxer,” songs he said he “closely associates” with Brecker. A riveting Dianne Reeves and Bobby McFerrin also sang, while Brecker’s 15-piece band — The Michael Brecker Quindectet — played throughout the night and in between the singers’ sets. {more}

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