I've posted part of this story before on SOTW, but I think it's worth repeating. Around 1976-77 Mike and Randy were doing a week long gig with Hal Galper at Montreal's Rising Sun club. As a struggling jazz player, I went the first night and begged Mike for a lesson. He said he doesn't give lessons but to drop by his hotel and he'd show me some licks. Whoa! So a sax buddy and I went by the next day and ended up hanging out with Mike a lot that week. The nicest guy you'd ever meet and then some. Yes, I played his Link and Dukoff (I hated them) and his Mark VI (loved it!). He tried my Berg (he hated it!) and my VI (he meh'd it!!). He did teach me a great lick that I still practice every day and we just hung and talked about life, careers, music & gear, chicks and sports.
Around Thursday he was complaining about a lot of leaks on his horn, so I suggested a sax repair shop that I used. We phoned them at about 4:55 and they said they were closing at 5:00. I said "I've got Mike Brecker in the cab and we're on the way - please don't close." When we got there and I introduced Mike, they were just thrilled to meet him - and he was extremely humble and grateful for the late day repairs. They wouldn't take a penny from him.
We then ended up at Schwartz's Smoked Meat Deli for some famous Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches (and a case of 3-day heartburn!) As per tradition, while you're waiting at Schwartz's, a waiter often brings you some Karnatzel. Karnatzel is an ugly, dried, cigar-shaped beef sausage, about the width of a nickel and seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs. Never having seen such a strange looking edible, I remember Mike saying, "Hey, it's been ages since I've had a nice serving of dried gorilla dick!!" Indeed, much ribald laughter ensued.
Here's the real fun part: That week, we went almost every night (except Friday) to hear The Breckers and Galper. Now, The Rising Sun was a club that I had played at every month for over a year. As I was well known to the owner and staff, I never paid to see other acts. BUT by Saturday night (last night of the stand), there was a long lineup to get in and the owner insisted that I and my two band mates pay!! At that second, Mike came up the stairs and saw us arguing with the owner. He asked the owner "What's the deal?" The owner said "Hey - they've got to pay." Mike said "No - they're my personal guests! C'mon guys." And we just walked in with him. No problem. Later that night, I was sitting at a table with about six of my university music school sax buddies who had shown up late. Mike comes by, slaps me on the shoulder and says - "Hey man, where the hell were you last night!!?? I can't believe you missed the show, I was looking for you! It was my best night of the week." All the sax students looked at me - jaws dropped - like Mike and I were old pals and they just couldn't believe it. Then Mike pulled me aside and we went to the dressing room for beer and swappin' fishin' lies. Such a cool, brilliant, unique dude.