Obituary: Zachary Breaux 1960-1997

Zachary Charles Breaux died February 20, 1997 after attempting to save a drowning woman in the ocean off Miami Beach. According to the Associated Press, Breaux suffered a heart attack after being brought to shore. The woman also died. Breaux had previously saved a man from drowning, while on tour in Italy in 1988.

Zachary Breaux was born in Port Arthur, Texas. He began playing guitar at the age of 11 after practicing the clarinet for two years. His interest in jazz was inspired by his high school band director. He majored in Music Composition at North Texas State University, where he enjoyed listening to Wes Mongomery, Charlie Christian, and Dizzy Gillespie. He played with musicians such as Noel Pointer, Ronnie Laws, Jon Lucien, and most notably Roy Ayers, which whom Breaux would perform through 1993 when he decided to embark on a solo career. Breaux’s playing was brought to the attention of NYC Records president Mike Mainieri, who promptly asked Breaux to contribute a track to the Beatles guitar tribute album he was releasing. Mainieri released Breaux’s first two solo albums on NYC. The first, released in 1993, was an album recorded at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. Groovin’ featured Breaux originals and compositions by other writers, as well as an acid jazz version of John Coltrane’s “Impressions.” The follow-up album, Laid Back, was released the following year. Breaux had recently resurfaced on Zebra Records, where his album, Uptown Groove, has been performing very well.

Mainieri had said of Breaux, “I’ve personally had the pleasure of performing with Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and George Benson, and Zachary’s own ‘voice’ on the guitar keeps the lineage alive with eloquence and passion.”

Zachary Breaux is survived by his wife, Frederica, and three daughters, ages 14, 12 and 6, as well as six brothers and sisters and his parents.

2 Replies to “Obituary: Zachary Breaux 1960-1997”

  1. Zachary Breaux was a superbly gifted musician who left an indelible stamp on the contemporary jazz files, before passing away tragically at the age of 36. His CD, Uptown Groove, which featured Isaac Hayes’ classic “Café Reggio”, was perhaps his strongest album, for it truly showcased his individual artistry.

    While you could hear echoes of Wes Montgomery and George Benson (two of his most obvious influences), in his lyrical, mellifluous style, Mr. Breaux could take the incomparable John Coltrane’s “Impressions” and make it his own— just by putting a little something special on the top or bottom of the groove—and it would transport you to another aural dimension.

    Zachary Breaux, though long at peace, would have turned 57 years old just this past Monday on June 26th. While no one can feel the devastating loss of his life as profoundly as his family, the rest of us who continue to appreciate and respect his undeniable superior musicianship, know that there never be another artist like him.

    God’s blessings to your family and to the family of Eugenie Poleyeff, whose life you attempted courageously to save. Your unselfishness and sacrifices not only as a musician but also more importantly as a human being, forever will be cherished and lauded.

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