The Practice Notebooks of Michael Brecker
Published by Sher Music
Every now and then a work of art appears that gratifies and inspires us for many years. Such is the case with the recent publication by Sher Music of The Practice Notebooks of Michael Brecker. This publication contains over 700 exercises, each 4-8 measures in length, that Michael carefully notated in manuscript books that he maintained between 1967-2002. His endless quest to learn, perfect and incorporate different material into his playing resulted in his becoming the most influential saxophonist after John Coltrane in contemporary jazz improvisation. His mastery of his instrument was breath taking and one can discern his incredible dedication to his craft in this beautifully edited collection. It is also clear going through this book that Michael admired a myriad of jazz artists and attempted to learn more about their creative process by practicing quotations from their solos that he had transcribed. He also notated his own exercises and practiced everything in 12 keys whenever feasible. Much like looking through the manuscripts of a Beethoven symphony to better understand his compositional mind, one will start to appreciate the intense dedication that Michael gave to his craft and begin to comprehend how he arrived at such a high level of unique musical expression by going through this book. This collection might also inspire any serious musician to begin creating their own manuscript book(s). I can think of no better way to start the day then to practice what Michael did and then go on to construct one’s own exercises.