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Gordon Brisker: 1937-2004
Gordon Brisker
tenor saxophone

Born: November 6, 1937 in Cincinnati, OH
Died: September 10, 2004 in Sydney, Australia

Tenor saxophonist, arranger and bandleader

by Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2004 Todd S. Jenkins

Gordon Brisker, an exceptional tenorman and bandleader who had too few chances to shine on recordings, died of pancreatic cancer on September 10, 2004, in Sydney, Australia. He was 66 years old.

Brisker studied saxophone and clarinet at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, then gigged around town for a while before attending Berklee. He spent time in the bands of reedman Al Belletto and trumpeter Bill Berry before playing in the Woody Herman Orchestra from 1960 to '63.

After leaving Herman, Brisker freelanced around New York City for a while, played with Louie Bellson, then went back to Cincinnati where he did club gigs and worked on local television shows. In the late 1970s Brisker moved to Los Angeles for more studio opportunities. In 1980 he made his groundbreaking debut album as a leader, Collective Consciousness (Sutra), which opened more doors for tours and club work. He continued to lead recordings sporadically, the last being My Son John for the Naxos label.

Between 1983 and '85 Brisker taught at Berklee and wrote charts for Herb Pomeroy's band. Afterwards he returned to Los Angeles, performing with the likes of Anita O'Day, for whom he was musical director, and Bobby Shew. Around 1995 he joined the faculty of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Australia.

Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.


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