Fallen Tenor Giant

I spent the morning with Emily Brecker Greenberg, who I knew as the head of my local school board until I realized she was also the sister of Randy and Michael Brecker, the Brecker Brothers, whose music I've spent about 30 years listening to.

You might know him from the Saturday Night Live Band, or from solos on Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years," or James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, or Billy Joel's "Big Shot." He sat in with every pop star from Aerosmith to Zappa, and we haven't even started with the jazz stuff -- Miles, Mingus, McCoy, Herbie, Chick, Chet, Quincy, Jaco. Only he needed a second name, to distinguish himself from his trumpeter brother.

Emily, 60, grew up in the middle of the two in a musical household in Cheltenham. Dad, a lawyer, was a jazz pianist at heart. Emily played classical piano, but says that by 8th grade she sensed music was not going to be her career. Her teacher was not so convinced, however, and so made Emily wear leather gloves when she played electric bass with her brothers so she would't get callouses that might ruin her ivory touch.

Michael died last January from complications of leukemia. He had a rare blood disorder, and failed to find a proper bone marrow match. Emily made a promise to him, which is the subject of a column next week.

All this is to introduce this piece of music I found on the Web. A tribunte to the 6-foot-4 baby brother Emily called "Mikey." I keep playing it as I try to find the words to start the piece. It's called "Common Grounds," from a performance in Barcelona.

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