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Bob Brookmeyer: Jack of All Trades, Master of Valves

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Bob Brookmeyer, 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, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, Jimmy Giuffre, Clark Terry and others during the 1950s and 1960s, epitomizing his Kansas City heritage in a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Mosaic Select 9: Bob Brookmeyer

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Bob BrookmeyerMosaic Select 9 Mosaic Records Although he continues to be a valued jazz artist recording occasionally, the state of Bob Brookmeyer's early catalog until recently was inexplicably in a state of disarray. Of course, we still haven't seen CD reissues of such vintage Verve sides like The Blues, Hot and Cold or the Mercury set Jazz Is a Kick, but things have been looking up since the appearance of this new Select reissue that brings together several choice albums including his previously hard-to-come-by United Artists dates from 1958.This three-disc set ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Evans and Bob Brookmeyer: The Ivory Hunters

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Yes, that's Bob Brookmeyer the valve trombonist, and it's Bill Evans the pianist who, during the same year as this recording, would appear with Miles Davis on the fabled Kind of Blue session (Columbia, 1959). Some listeners will no doubt be familiar with the session, originally issued by United Artists under Brookmeyer's name and with the descriptive sub-title “Double-Barrelled Piano." But if you're hearing about this curious match-up for the first time, and close to the beginning of April at that, be assured that neither Brookmeyer's listing as a “pianist" nor his playing of the instrument is a joke.

The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Brookmeyer and the New Art Orchestra: Spirit Music

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Clever title this, even though perchance unintended. Bob Brookmeyer (in his 76th year) and the impressive New Art Orchestra have recorded their fifth album, and first for ArtistShare, Spirit Music--in other words, the “Spirit of '76. Brookmeyer doesn't mention that in the liner notes, preferring to let others read between the lines and saying only that to circumvent “a routine that had developed [with the NAO] over the past ten years," he had “used a combination of new and recently composed (but never recorded) compositions, trying to select combinations and sequences that would make a good program.

The question thus ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra: Get Well Soon

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Get Well Soon is the third recording by the New Art Orchestra, an eighteen-piece ensemble formed nearly two decades ago in Lubeck, Germany, as a jazz component of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and overseen since its inception by the renowned American trombonist and composer, Bob Brookmeyer. Brookmeyer loves the NAO ("It has been my good fortune to become associated with an incredible group of people," he says. “They love what they do, they thrive on their friendships, and they give everything they have to me and my music")--and the NAO loves him back, the proof of which is readily apparent ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Brookmeyer: Stay Out of the Sun

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In valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer's biography, one can trace the map of jazz's history, both musical and personal. Brookmeyer has spent time in many of jazz's major ensembles, including Basie, Thornhill, Ellington and Lewis, and small groups, playing with Mulligan, Getz, Giuffre and Mingus. Along the way he has taken part in and contributed to the music's orchestral and instrumental innovations. He has also unfortunately experienced one of jazz's major tragedies: substance addiction, a disease that nearly cost him everything.

In the late '70s Brookmeyer met drummer Michael Stephans, and, according to the trombonist, Stephans kept him playing. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ted Rosenthal / Bob Brookmeyer: One Night in Vermont

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Yes, beautiful music is still being played, and played beautifully as well. Doubters need only check out this bright and refreshing hour-long recital by pianist Ted Rosenthal and valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, recorded in August ‘01 at the Memorial Hall Center for the Arts in Wilmington, VT.

Much like the chicken and the egg, this is a case of which component one admires more, the music or the musicians. Any program that includes two songs by Jerome Kern and one each by Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Jimmy van Heusen and Irving Berlin, plus Bob Haggart/Johnny Burke’s enduring ballad ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ted Rosenthal/Bob Brookmeyer: One Night in Vermont

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Two people. That’s all you need to create a stunning album complete with all of jazz’s beloved nuances, all the explosive vitality of a live performance and all those stirring moments that remind you why you need it in your life. One Night In Vermont, pianist Ted Rosenthal and trombonist Bob Brookmeyer’s new live album, contains all of these, but it also captures a historic evening—the first time the pair played together as a duo. August 28th, 2001 at Wilmington, Vermont’s Memorial Hall Center for the Arts must have been a very special evening for all in attendance, for each ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ted Rosenthal/Bob Brookmeyer: One Night in Vermont

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Have you ever been in public with nothing particular on your mind and suddenly realized that, without intending to, you were evesdropping on a conversation of remarkable warmth and intimacy? You probably felt nearly as uncomfortable to continue listening as you were powerless to stop. Hearing Ted Rosenthal and Bob Brookmeyer playing together puts me nearly in that place. But I say “ nearly in that place,” because these two incomparable musicians have in fact invited us to eves drop. They were playing live in concert on August 28, 2001 at the Memorial Hall Center for the ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

A Bob Brookmeyer Bonanza

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Turning 75 this year, valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer brought his New Art Orchestra to town last month at the IAJE and a “Battle of the Bands” at the Village Vanguard. He endures as a master of the “cool” and continues to produce musical permutations resulting in elaborate and complex compositions that are clear and pure: music, that is, well, “cool”. Island is co-led with a musician who is as respected as Brookmeyer, 74-year-old flugelhorn/trumpet player Kenny Wheeler. In addition to the audio CD, Island includes a DVD where the upfront Brookmeyer and the more reserved Wheeler are revealed. A mini-course ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Brookmeyer and Kenny Wheeler: Island

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Veterans Bob Brookmeyer and Kenny Wheeler explore shared sensibilities on Island, a collection that could have fit comfortably in Wheeler’s ECM catalogue, but instead spearheads the resuscitated Artists House label. Although they’ve not recorded together before, they set eachother up and finish eachother’s thoughts like a long married couple. The island in question seems more north Atlantic than Caribbean. While the program tends toward moody mid-tempo tunes, the high level of playing keeps monotony at bay.

The disc opens with “Before the First Time,” and Brookmeyer blowing breathy velvet. Bassist Jeremy Allen echoes and tweaks Brookmeyer’s lines, ...

ARTIST PROFILES

A World of Trombone: Slide Hampton & Bob Brookmeyer

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Submitted on behalf of Jonathan Davidson Ask any lay listener to list the most influential jazz saxophonists of the 20th Century and you're likely to come up with a short list including Coltrane, Bird and a few others. But, ask an educated musician the same question and that list would expand to dozens. Now ask that listener to name the most influential jazz trombonists and you'll be lucky to get three different responses. Even the educated musician will probably not have too many additional names to offer. To be sure, both would list Slide Hampton and Bob ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra: Waltzing with Zoe

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Spectacular. There’s no other way to describe “Seesaw,” the opening number on the second album by Bob Brookmeyer’s German–based New Art Orchestra. A shame the Grammy Awards don’t include one for best big–band composition (even though there is a ludicrous prize for “best Jazz solo”), as “Seesaw” would win the honor going away. The highest compliment this reviewer can pay Brookmeyer’s “dialogue between drums and band” is that it brought to mind some favorite themes (“Playground,” “Big Swing Face,” “555 Feet High”) by the great (and greatly underrated) Bill Potts. As for the NAO’s John Hollenbeck, we’ve seldom heard drumming ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer, Al Cohn/Zoot Sims: Recorded Fall 1961, You

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These two early 60s quintet dates are marvelous, a mother lode of timeless horn artistry. They’re both straight reissues — no alternate takes or unreleased tracks of any sort. The first, originally produced by Creed Taylor, pairs Stan Getz and Bob Brookmeyer, with Steve Kuhn, John Neves, and Roy Haynes in the rhythm section. Three of Brookmeyer’s tunes appear (that’s half the program right there), beginning with “Minuet Circa ’61," a beautiful waltz that immediately establishes the rhythmic and timbral simpatico of the two principals. The uniqueness of both stylists is simply astounding. Brookmeyer begins his solo on the original ...



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