PRESS RELEASES

Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition

Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition
Eight Semi-Finalists to Compete at the
Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel (August 25 – 27)
Semi-Finalists of the Inaugural Competition are
Artem Badenko, Niall Cade, Nathan Bellott, Alex Hahn,
Sheridan Hitchcock, Sean Payne, Daniel Varga & Alex Weitz
First Prize: $12,500 / Second Prize: $7,500 / Third Prize: $2,500
“…he was a hero to me right from the beginning.” – Pat Metheny
“Michael Brecker is one of the most complete saxophonists
of the post-John Coltrane era.” – Ravi Coltrane
“Mike’s love and passion about creating music and the continuous study
of the saxophone will always be an inspiration for me. While he was a true virtuoso,
he constantly worked on his approach. Mike’s influence fuels my ideas
every time I play; he is always with me” – Joe Lovano
The Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition is delighted to announce the eight semi-finalists for their inaugural competition. Artem Badenko, Niall Cade, Nathan Bellott, Alex Hahn, Sheridan Hitchcock, Sean Payne, Daniel Varga and Alex Weitz will compete for the top 3 prizes. The final two rounds are to be held at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel from August 25 through August 27.
By virtue of their selection, each of the semi-finalists embody the spirit and influence that Michael Brecker’s artistry will impact for generations to come. Brecker’s discography of more than 900 albums features work with his brother Randy and Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock, Aerosmith, James Brown, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Funkadelic, Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan, John Lennon, Elton John, Chick Corea, and Pat Metheny, among others. Hailed by The New York Times as “among the most influential musicians in jazz since the 1960s,” Brecker passed away in 2007 at 57 years old after a battle with leukemia.
As a result of his stylistic and harmonic innovations, the 15-time Grammy winner will forever be regarded as one of the most eminent saxophonists of this or any generation. He loved the company of musicians and especially aspiring young saxophonists. He would listen to the unsolicited tapes received, would return with feedback, and would always take time to speak to young musicians following his gigs. In his characteristically humble way, Michael had an uncanny ability to make everyone feel special. In recognition of Michael’s generosity, and to assist in providing ballast to deserving careers, The Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition was created. The mission of the competition is to assist in the launch of emerging, exceptionally talented saxophonists.
Susan Brecker, Michael’s widow and a co-founder of the competition said, “It is a wonderful honor. Michael was always supportive of young saxophonists and would have been delighted and humbled.” Added her co-founder Darryl Pitt — Michael’s former manager who encouraged Michael to appear at the inaugural Red Sea Jazz Festival to help the Festival get started, “Mike was an astounding musician and an even better man; I miss him dearly—as does everyone who was blessed to have him in their lives.”
The preliminary judges for the competition included critically acclaimed saxophonists Melissa Aldana, Marcus Strickland and Ben Wendel, who made their decisions solely based on the recorded performances provided. Each applicant was assigned a number and the judges were not provided any further information.