Bob Brookmeyer: 7 x Wilder
“ What has hampered Brookmeyer these days from getting any kind of residual acclaim is the fact that so many of his early masterpieces are simply unavailable. ”
For our purposes this month, we focus on another Brookmeyer gem from the Verve era, namely the 1961 release 7 x Wilder. Working in a quartet setting, Brookmeyer matches personalities flawlessly with guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Mel Lewis, while paying homage to iconoclast composer Alec Wilder. One of the best and most memorable tunes from the Wilder cannon is “While We’re Young,” treated here as a waltz and finding Brookmeyer playing piano with a minimalist approach. The other line which might be familiar is “It’s So Peaceful In the Country,” rendered ever so delicately this time with our leading man on trombone. Not lost on today’s astute musicians, this melodic jewel can also be heard in a more recent version by pianist Bill Charlap.
Brookmeyer would pen “Blues For Alec” and it serves as one of the lengthier cuts, Hall and the trombonist stretching out in a bluesy vein that brings out the best solos of the set. It’s also here that you really notice the way this ensemble breathes as one, Lewis and Crow never intruding on the generally restrained mood, but not failing either to support the soloists firmly. A sublime gem that deserves a reissue, along with the rest of his Verve sides, 7 x Wilder is Brookmeyer at his finest with an obscure performance from Jim Hall to boot.