Pilgrimage (Michael Brecker album)

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Pilgrimage MB.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 22, 2007
RecordedAugust 2006
StudioRight Track Recording, New York City
LabelHeads Up
ProducerMichael Brecker, Gil Goldstein, Steve Rodby, Pat Metheny
Michael Brecker chronology
Wide Angles

Pilgrimage is the final studio album by saxophonist Michael Brecker. It was recorded in 2006, released the following year, and won Grammys for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group and Best Jazz Instrumental Solo.


In 2005 Brecker announced that he would no longer perform in public as he had myelodysplastic syndrome, which led to leukemia.[1] Despite this, he was able to make some guest appearances the following year, and planned the recording sessions that led to this album being made.[1]

Recording and music[edit]

The album was recorded in August 2006.[2] The personnel consists of Brecker, guitarist Pat Metheny, pianists Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Jack DeJohnette.[3]

All of the nine compositions were Brecker originals, written for this recording.[1] The title of the ballad "When Can I Kiss You Again?" was from Brecker's son, who asked him that question while Brecker was in medical isolation.[4]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[4]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz3.5/4 stars[2]

Pilgrimage was released in 2007 by Heads Up.[3] The AllMusic reviewer wrote: "This is a brilliant and inspiring album – and would be whether or not it had anything to do with the death of one of the great figures in American jazz."[4]

The Penguin Guide to Jazz praised some of the compositions, concluded that, "as a memorial it's pretty good", but suggested that they were being generous because it was Brecker's final recording.[2] In the later The Penguin Jazz Guide they reflected "This was somewhat of a misread. So impressive, so meticulously crafted were his solos, and so many of them in circulation, that it was easy to think there would be another one along any minute. Until 13 January 2007, that was the case. The ensuing silence has changed the value of what went before"[5]

The album won Brecker two posthumous Grammy awards: for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo (for his solo on "Anagram") and Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All music is composed by Michael Brecker.

1."The Mean Time"6:55
2."Five Months from Midnight"7:40
5."When Can I Kiss You Again?"9:42
6."Cardinal Rule"7:31
7."Half Moon Lane"7:17
8."Loose Threads"8:34



2008 – 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards[6]

Years Winner Title Category
2008 Michael Brecker "Anagram" Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo
2008 Michael Brecker Pilgrimage Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album


  1. ^ a b c Himes, Geoffrey (June 1, 2007). "Michael Brecker: Pilgrimage". JazzTimes.
  2. ^ a b c Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  3. ^ a b Bailey, C. Michael (May 24, 2007). "Michael Brecker: Michael Brecker: Pilgrimage". All About Jazz.
  4. ^ a b c Anderson, Rick (2011). "Pilgrimage – Michael Brecker". allmusic.com. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  5. ^ Morton, Brian; Richard Cook (2010) [1992]. The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (10th ed.). New York: Penguin. pp. 717–718. ISBN 978-0-14-104831-4.
  6. ^ a b "Past Winners Search". GRAMMY.com. Retrieved September 25, 2011.