All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Big Band Report

Bob Brookmeyer: Jack of All Trades, Master of Valves

Bob Brookmeyer: Jack of All Trades, Master of Valves
By Published: February 5, 2012
Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
1929 - 2011
trombone
, a Renaissance man among jazz musicians who died December 15, 2011, four days before his eighty-second birthday, will be remembered as many things: composer, arranger, musician, educator, outspoken arbiter who brooked no nonsense and wasn't shy about letting others know when he believed they were not giving the music he loved the best they had to offer. What I remember best about Brookmeyer was the lithe, ever-swinging valve trombone that complemented such luminaries as Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
, Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
, Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
1925 - 1985
sax, tenor
, Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
1921 - 2008
clarinet
, Clark Terry
Clark Terry
Clark Terry
b.1920
trumpet
and others during the 1950s and 1960s, epitomizing his Kansas City heritage in a series of memorable albums that sound as fresh today as they did more than half a century ago.

Never one to stand still for long, Brookmeyer went on to explore and enhance other areas of the musical spectrum, composing and arranging for a number of big bands and smaller groups including his Netherlands-based ensemble, the New Art Orchestra, meanwhile teaching at the New England Conservatory of Music, where his students included the well-known composer / arranger Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
.

Brookmeyer was arranging to the end, with Standards, a new album by the NAO featuring vocalist Fay Claassen
Fay Claassen
Fay Claassen
b.1969
vocalist
, released on ArtistShare only two weeks before his passing. Although not as widely known or celebrated as a pianist, Brookmeyer was capable enough at the keyboard to have played with several big bands and recorded a two-piano album with the great Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
. He worked as a studio musician in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s, and for another decade after moving to Los Angeles in 1968. A serious drinking problem led him to consider leaving music to become an alcoholism counselor but he returned instead to New York in 1978 and resumed his career as a full-time jazz musician, rejoining the Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
/ Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
1929 - 1990
drums
} Orchestra (renamed the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra after Thad's departure) as music director while also composing avant-garde classical music. He spent the rest of his life composing, arranging and teaching in the U.S and in Europe.

Brookmeyer was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2006, and recently earned his eighth Grammy Award nomination for an arrangement from the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra's latest album, Ever Lasting. As noted, he was many things to many people but the buoyant sound of that valve trombone isn't easily forgotten.

The Girls in the Band

The "hidden history" of women in jazz (and boy, has it been well-hidden) is surveyed in a new video, The Girls in the Band, directed and co-produced by Judy Chaikin. Led by saxophonist Roz Cron, "a group of players from the 1930s and 1940s relate their triumphs and struggles as they describe the contradictions and sexism faced by talented distaff musicians in [a] male-dominated world." Performance clips touch on the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the Ada Leonard Orchestra, the Melodears, the Ingenues and other groups. Cron recalls being one of the few white players in the Sweethearts of Rhythm, led by ace saxophonist Vi Redd
Vi Redd
Vi Redd
b.1928
sax, alto
, saying she "felt ashamed of my race" while describing efforts to darken her face when the band toured the South during the waning days of Jim Crow laws.

The documentary also covers such early stars as Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
1910 - 1981
piano
, Melba Liston
Melba Liston
b.1926
trombone
and Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
1918 - 2013
piano
who opened the door for today's women to move to the forefront among jazz musicians around the world. Contemporary musicians offering their insights include Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
b.1965
drums
, Jane Ira Bloom
Jane Ira Bloom
Jane Ira Bloom

sax, soprano
, Geri Allen
Geri Allen
Geri Allen
b.1957
piano
, Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
, Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen

sax, tenor
, Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
and the late Dr. Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor
1921 - 2010
piano
. The film was shown recently at the Dubai, Vancouver and Palm Springs Jazz Festivals, with plans presumably to present it at other events in the states and overseas.

Farewell Clem DeRosa

Clem DeRosa, who began his long career in music as a drummer and played during World War II in one of Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
1904 - 1944
trombone
's Army Air Corps bands, died December 20. He was eighty-seven years old. After the war, DeRosa performed with a number of stars including Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
, Marian McPartland, Teo Macero
Teo Macero
Teo Macero
1925 - 2008
producer
, Teddy Wilson
Teddy Wilson
Teddy Wilson
1912 - 1986
piano
, Thad Jones, Ben Webster
Ben Webster
Ben Webster
1909 - 1973
sax, tenor
, Clark Terry, Phil Woods
Phil Woods
Phil Woods
b.1931
sax, alto
, Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins
1904 - 1969
sax, tenor
, John LaPorta
John LaPorta
John LaPorta
1920 - 2004
clarinet
, Bobby Hackett
Bobby Hackett
Bobby Hackett
1915 - 1976
trumpet
and others. He was best known, however, as a leading pioneer of jazz education whose professional-sounding student ensembles performed on the Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin television shows. DeRosa, a co-founder and later president of the International Association of Jazz Educators, taught at Columbia University's Teachers College while continuing to perform and later to lead contemporary versions of the Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
1904 - 1957
composer/conductor
and Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
orchestras. He also worked closely with Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
in jazz clinics that were started in the early 1960s. DeRosa was inducted into the IAJE Hall of Fame in 1990, about a decade before he established American Jazz Venues, a non-profit group dedicated to presenting the music to newer and younger audiences, principally through its musical voice, the American Jazz Repertory Orchestra. DeRosa's older son, Richard, is head of jazz composition at the University of North Texas in Denton. He is also survived by his wife, Shirley; a daughter, Dianne, and son, Gary.

Swing Central Jazz

A dozen of the country's top high school jazz bands have been chosen to take part in the seventh annual edition of the Swing Central Jazz band competition and workshop, sponsored by the Savannah (GA) Music Festival. Participating students work with jazz mentors for three days, perform in showcases on Savannah's River Street, play in competition rounds and attend a variety of SMF performances during the event, which takes place March 28-30. The bands also compete for $13,000 in cash awards.

Bands scheduled to take part are the Advanced Jazz Band from Battle Ground (WA) High School; Agoura Hills (CA) High School Studio Jazz Band; Champaign (IL) Central High School Jazz Ensemble and Stage Band; Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble (Fort Lauderdale, FL); Hume Fogg Academic High School Jazz Band (Nashville, TN); Leon High School Jazz Ensemble 1 (Tallahassee, FL); Lower Moreland (PA) High School Jazz Ensemble; Mount Si High School Jazz Band 1 (Snoqualmie, WA); Newport High School Jazz 1 (Bellevue, WA); Temple (TX) Highlighters; and Lovett School Jazz Ensemble (Atlanta, GA).

The Swing Central Jazz clinicians are Jim Ketch
Jim Ketch
b.1952
trumpet
, Sean Jones
Sean Jones
Sean Jones
b.1978
trumpet
, Terell Stafford
Terell Stafford
Terell Stafford
b.1966
trumpet
, trumpet; Jeff Clayton
Jeff Clayton
Jeff Clayton
b.1954
saxophone
, Bill Kennedy, Jack Wilkins
Jack Wilkins
Jack Wilkins
b.1944
guitar
, saxophone; Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
b.1967
trombone
, Ron Westray
Ron Westray
Ron Westray

trombone
, Paul McKee, trombone; Dave Stryker
Dave Stryker
Dave Stryker
b.1957
guitar
, guitar; Jason Marsalis
Jason Marsalis
Jason Marsalis
b.1977
drums
, Leon Anderson, Herlin Riley
Herlin Riley
Herlin Riley
b.1957
drums
, drums; Rodney Whitaker
Rodney Whitaker
Rodney Whitaker
b.1968
bass, acoustic
, Rodney Jordan, Jeffry Eckels , bass; Marcus Roberts
Marcus Roberts
Marcus Roberts
b.1963
piano
, Bill E. Peterson, Aaron Diehl
Aaron Diehl
Aaron Diehl

piano
, Kevin Bales, piano.

The three top-scoring bands receive honorariums ($5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second, $1,000 for third) and perform the opening set at the SMF production "Swingin' & Wailin.'" Other bands receive a $500 travel stipend. For information about the Savannah Music Festival, contact Ryan McMaken (ryan@savannahmusicfestival.org) or phone 912-234-3378, ext. 104.

Big Bands Are Still Out There

And you can hear some of the best in the New York area performing on selected Tuesday evenings at the New York City Baha'i Center, 53 E. 11th Street (between University Place and Broadway). General admission is $15, $10 for students. On February 14, the Ben and Frank Perowsky Big Band performs two shows, at 8:00 and 9:30 p.m. For information, phone 212-222-5159.

Another Reminder

Ken Poston and the Los Angeles Jazz Institute are presenting another all-star event, Modern Sounds, May 24-27 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel. This one focuses on "Big Bands of the Atomic Age" and includes twenty large ensembles along with films, panel discussions and special presentations. Among the jazz giants whose music will be heard are Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
, Tadd Dameron
Tadd Dameron
Tadd Dameron
1917 - 1965
arranger
, Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
, Charlie Ventura
Charlie Ventura
Charlie Ventura
1916 - 1992
sax, tenor
, Chubby Jackson
Chubby Jackson
Chubby Jackson
1918 - 2003
bass, acoustic
, Tiny Kahn, Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw
1910 - 2004
clarinet
, Gil Fuller
Gil Fuller
b.1920
, Claude Thornhill
Claude Thornhill
Claude Thornhill
1909 - 1965
vocalist
, Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
, Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
, Elliot Lawrence, Boyd Raeburn
Boyd Raeburn
b.1913
, Ralph Burns
Ralph Burns
Ralph Burns
b.1922
composer/conductor
, Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
1922 - 2008
trumpet
, Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
1915 - 1967
piano
, Charlie Barnet
Charlie Barnet
Charlie Barnet
1913 - 1991
composer/conductor
and Mary Lou Williams. For information, go online to www.lajazzinstitute.org or phone 562-200-5477.

And that's it for now. Until next time, keep swingin' . . . !

New and Noteworthy

1. Stan Kenton / NOVA Jazz Orchestra, Double Feature, Vol. 2 (Tantara Productions)

2. The Phil Norman Tentet, Encore (MAMA)

3. Dutch Jazz Orchestra, The Music of Rob Madna (5-CD) (Challenge)

4. Cecilia Coleman Big Band, Oh Boy! (Interplay)

5. Skelton Skinner All-Star Big Band, Cookin' with the Lid On (Diving Duck)

6. Sandvika Storband, A Novel Approach (Sandvika Storband)

7. Dietrich Koch Big Band, Berlin Cookbook (Mons)

8. New Zealand School of Music Big Band, Funk City Ola (NZSM Jazz)

9. Nelson Faria / hr Big Band, Live in Frankfurt (Self Published)

10. Landes Jugend Jazz Orchester Hessen, A Tribute to Kenny Napper (Mons)

11. University of Memphis, Out of the Bluffs (UMR)

12. Renolds Jazz Orchestra, Three Penny Opera: Live in Aarau (Shanti Records)

13. Band of Bones, Untitled (BB Productions)

14. Deutsche Oper Berlin Big Band, How Long Is Now? (Mons)

15. Washington State University, Kinda Fabulous (WSU Jazz)


comments powered by Disqus