Milkowski’s book functions not only as a biography of Brecker, but also as a portrait of the expansive New York City jazz scene of the early to mid-1970s, when the music was moving in various directions at once, with some musicians taking multiple paths. The book is full of intimate observations that draw a colorful picture of a complex artist with issues he had to work through. This book provides an excellent introduction to Brecker and his times.— ARSC Journal
“Brecker became the most influential saxophonist of the post-John Coltrane generation and he managed to do so without selling out or compromising his creative and artistic integrity.
His impact on our world is carefully documented by journalist Bill Milkowski, who was a friend of the subject. Milkowski basically invented this form of biography with his first book JACO: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius in 1995 and Pat Martino enlisted him as a co-author for Here and Now! The Autobiography of Pat Martino in 2011. Milkowski describes Ode to a Tenor Titan as a “love letter to a pal”, but it is important to note that this book doesn’t gloss over any of the subject’s shortcomings despite their close relationship. It describes Brecker’s reaction to the slings and arrows of his life without becoming sensational or maudlin and the entire work is exhaustively researched and documented.”—Robert Bush, The New York City Jazz Record —
“Veteran jazz journalist Milkowski (Legends of Jazz; Keith Richards: A Rock ’n’ Roll Life) has written an enthusiastic, definitive biography of the self-effacing, pace-setting saxophonist Michael Brecker (1949–2007) . . . Milkowski’s book is an entertaining, balanced, thoroughly researched, and informative study of the even-tempered saxophone great Michael Brecker; will engage fans of popular music and jazz.”—David P. Szatmary, Library Journal—
“[I]t is high time that Brecker is recognized as one of the giants of jazz.
A good start to that goal is Bill Milkowski’s excellent new Brecker biography, “Ode to a Tenor Titan” (Backbeat). Milkowski has a unique vantage point: he knew Brecker for many years and was one of the rare jazz critics who recognized the value of Brecker’s playing at the time. One of the book’s most valuable assets is the detailed history of the fusion movement—specifically the music being created outside of Miles Davis’ leadership . . . Bill Milkowski’s book offers a gateway to exploring Michael Brecker’s phenomenal talent and his jaw-dropping innovations.”—Thomas Cunniffe, Jazzhistoryonline.com—
“Bill Milkowski, paired with a parade of Michael’s bandmates, friends and colleagues has painted a graphic image of Michael Brecker the human within all his triumphs and insecurities.”—Skip Spratt, Saxshed.com—
“There are so very few truly great jazz authors out there, meaning those who really 'get' their subjects and can tell their story warts and all – in all empathy. And Bill Milkowski is one of these.—
An excellent book. I spent happy hours and more than that in dreaming, thinking and listening time with the book breaking off to listen to Brecker on numerous records and examples. Because listening is what it's all about and Milkowski sends you there right to the heart of it all.”—Stephen Graham, Marlbank Jazz Blog
“I cannot imagine how much work writer Bill Milkowski must have done for his new book Ode to a Tenor Titan (Backbeat Books). He comprehensively and definitively covers every aspect of Brecker’s life and career. Unlike with most jazz journalists, Milkowski is as familiar with Michael Brecker’s career outside of his jazz projects as he is with his jazz sessions, writing with great understanding about his contributions to the recordings of pop stars and about his two years touring with Paul Simon. But more than that, Milkowski captures Brecker’s modest personality, his constant curiosity about other types of music, the full story of his drug addiction of the 1970s which he beat, his dedication to helping others, and his musical genius.”—Scott Yanow, Jazz Around Town, part of LA Jazz Scene—
“[Brecker] was a true jazz mensch, and Milkowski writes about him with the level of engagement that an artist of Brecker’s caliber deserves. This book deserves all the attention it’s going to get.”—Jeff Wilson, Absolute Sound—
“How can Michael Brecker be the jazz sax hero among other hornplayers, but get so little respect from the critical establishment?
A fascinating new book on Michael Brecker by Bill Milkowski, Ode to a Tenor Titan, goes a long way toward answering that question, but even better, this star tenorist is finally treated at length with the kind of discerning analysis he deserves—and has long received, but only in the practice rooms of his acolytes. Their numbers are many.”—jazz critic, historian, and author Ted Gioia for his blog, The Honest Broker—
"Ode to a Tenor Titan seems to go deeper than simply another biography. Milkowski clearly has a true respect for Brecker and reminds us that this is a talented artist who should be remembered among the tenor players who inspired him."—Kyle Simpler, All About Jazz—