Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Fallen Tenor Giant

Fallen Tenor Giant

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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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About this blog
Daniel Rubin is a columnist and The Inquirer's director of social media. Since joining newspaper as a staff writer in 1988, Daniel Rubin has reported from Mayfair to Macedonia, 27 countries in all. He has been the European Correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and for two years he sat at home and wrote Blinq, the paper's first daily blog. Dan began newspaper work in Norfolk and Louisville, Ky., after getting his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University. He has lived in all four commonwealths, most recently in Pennsylvania. He teaches urban journalism at the University of Pennsylvania

Email Blinq here. My day job - Inquirer metro columnist - is here.

Reach Daniel at drubin@phillynews.com.

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