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Obituary: Zachary Breaux 1960-1997

John Hilderbrand Avatar

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.

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5 responses to “Obituary: Zachary Breaux 1960-1997”

  1. […] remembers Zachary Breaux who died 20 years ago […]

  2. Liz Goodwin Avatar
    Liz Goodwin

    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.

  3. Lance McCain Avatar
    Lance McCain

    I loved Brother Z’s Music I was blessed to catch him live at the Roxy in Phoenix in like 93 absolutely a great show for me I’m listening to him right now here in San Diego in my hotel room just beautiful to be enjoying it I’ll listen for the rest of my life

  4. Robert Jefferson Avatar
    Robert Jefferson

    March 14, 2021, and as a fan I still miss him and think of him often. Where is the love captivated me when I heard it over the radio at work decades ago. I called the radio station immediately find out was that playing and days later ordered the CD. I later visited Ronnies Scott club in London only because I had noticed Groovin was recorded there. The club was packed and no one was allowed in. I had about 10 people with me. So I asked the door attendant was he there the night of the recording he said yes. We both got so excited talking about Mr. Z he let us all in and put us in the VIP section. #foreverfan.

  5. […] will mark 25 years since contemporary jazz guitarist Zachary Breaux left the world way too soon. His recording label for his final album, Zebra Records, had sent this out after his […]

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