By Erik Morrison
August 21, 2021
Tuck a thought in the back of your mind as you read this piece. Think of people you know who voluntarily dedicate 5-10 hours a week, every week, for nearly 20 years, to a cause from which they do not financially benefit. You may never meet anyone who can sustain such a Herculean lifestyle.
At 6PM every Tuesday Jeff Breeze would leave his job as a publication editor, administrator, lab technician, or turntable assembler. He would motor down Memorial Drive to MIT’s campus. He’d bound down the stairs of the Walker Memorial Building, tap a badge reader (if he remembered his ID), enter WMBR, and pop a meal into the microwave, perhaps with a fast food bag in tow among his records. After poking his head in to catch up with Ramsey, Andy, Kyle, Paige, Becca, Brian, Mike, or whoever else was engineering that evening’s act, Jeff would settle down at the big board laying out Pipeline!’s setlist.
If you tuned in to 88.1 on your FM dial within the Greater Boston area on a Tuesday evening between 8PM and 10PM during the last 17 years, you heard Jeff Breeze host Pipeline! on WMBR. Each week, Jeff cued up music from dozens of New England musicians and shared them with his listeners—music critics, audiophiles, radio surfers, casual listeners, and devoted fans. During the second hour of Pipeline!, Jeff invited musicians to WMBR’s A Studio for a live on-air performance. Some of these performers found themselves headlining sold-out shows at major venues within a few years. Others would make a career in the local scene that any kid who strapped on a six-string would dream of. For most, it would be their only public broadcast appearance. No matter their trajectory, Jeff Breeze was the launching point, thruster, and portal to the next step for thousands of artists regardless of genre, training, or talent level.
Further behind Pipeline!’s curtain, Jeff sent thousands of emails, helped artists navigate Cambridge’s street maze on their way to the station, scurried to find replacements for last-minute cancellations (musicians can be flaky), and emotionally supported nervous twentysomethings questioning their musical prowess moments before the “On Air” light illuminated their faces.
Jeff was a delight to know. His genuine interest in what you had going on resonated through to your next encounter. He felt no distance was too far to get a good scoop of ice cream. He helped reunite Big Star in 1993. He happily bent your ear about curling or the typewriters he collected. He was a member of The Concord Ballet Orchestra Players, The Boston Typewriter Orchestra, and other bands along the way. He collected a hefty variety of records and took incredible photos. His voice was the envy of anyone who spoke into a microphone. Jeff Breeze is missed every time a local band gathers for their first practice. Jeff was good.
—Erik Morrison, editing by Kris Thompson, Tim Gilman and Greg Erb
Concord Ballet Orchestra Players was active from 2005-2013, and now has an all-new archival Bandcamp site with their previous releases as well as a new ongoing series of previously unreleased jams. The latest track, "For Alice Coltrane, Part 1" was recorded at now-defunct Abbey Lounge in Somerville in 2007 (three weeks after her passing). You can find it here!