Copyright ©2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

As this year ends, we're remembering some jazz legends. And they include Oscar Peterson, the jazz pianist who died on Sunday at his home outside of Toronto, Canada. He was 82 years old.

Another is saxophonist Michael Brecker, whose recording is our choice for the best jazz album of the year. It was his last recording made before he died in January having left his mark on more than 900 records all together. The key to Michael Brecker's sound was his gripping solos.

And those solos caught the ear of Gary Walker of Public Radio member station WBGO in Newark, New Jersey.

GARY WALKER: Most musicians would say one of their hardest tasks was to follow a Michael Brecker solo.

(Soundbite of music)

WALKER: When Michael Brecker got the call to come in and take a solo regardless of the musical situation, he nailed it in one take. So whether he was in the world of jazz or in the world of pop or in the world of classical wherever he found himself playing, he always rose to the top. And I would have to highlight the recording that he left us with. And that was the recording called "Pilgrimage."

(Soundbite of music)

WALKER: And on this record you have people like Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau and Pat Metheny and John Patitucci and Jack Dejohnette. And they came together as if they were one. And I think that's the template for what jazz is all about; it's that ultimate communication.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Communication about Michael Brecker from Gary Walker of NPR member station WBGO. He recommends Brecker's "Pilgrimage" as the top jazz album of the year. You can hear Gary's top 10 favorites and our comprehensive guide to the best CDs of 2007 by npr.org/music.

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