Tom Brechtlein grew up in Long Island, New York and gravitated to playing drums after listening to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
When entering high school, his attention turned to big band jazz, and he became attracted to the music of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson and Woody Herman's Thundering Herd. His investigations of jazz led him to Dave Brubeck's drummer Joe Morello and then to modern jazz giants like Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham, Lenny White and Alphonse Mouzon as well as legends like Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones and Roy Haynes.
"Like a lot of young musicians in the early 70s, we were listening to the new jazz groups of the day. These bands were "John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra", "Return to Forever", "Weather Report" "Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House" among others."
"When I was 18 years old I saw Return to Forever on PBS Television; and I remember sitting there thinking - I'm going to play with this guy some day."
Two years later, in 1978, he auditioned for Corea and got the gig. He performed & recorded with Corea till 1983. Their musical relationship has continued off and on throughout the years and as recently as 2004-2006.
Other artists Tom has played with are Wayne Shorter, Al Di Meola, Joe Farrell, Jean Luc Ponty, Robben Ford, Rickie Lee Jones , Eric Johnson, The Manhattan Transfer.