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 to anyone who peruses the results of their collaborative efforts.
To Brookmeyer, love doesn't mean spoon-feeding his colleagues easily digestible fodder, and the charts he sets before them are as strenuous and sophisticated as one could envision. But the NAO seems unfazed, mastering the tricky metric shifts and harmonic variations with the sort of ease one associates with a leisurely stroll in the park. As a writer, Brookmeyer calls to mind Bill Holman and Gil Evans, among others, singular artists who use the entire orchestra as a canvas on which to paint their elaborate and expressive musical portraits. This is nowhere more apparent than on the exuberant opener, "Tah-DUM!", on which the NAO offers guest trumpeter Till Brönner a lively welcome with pianist Kris Goessens and drummer John Hollenbeck setting the compass while Brönner dances nimbly through and around the changes.
Brönner is also showcased on "Monster Rally," "Over Here" and the entrancing ballad "For You" (on flugelhorn); Goessens on "Song, Sing, Sung" and "Elegy"; tenor saxophonist Paul Heller on "Get Well Soon," the last written for Brookmeyer's Norwegian friend Jan Horne, who is recovering from a recent battle with cancer (and credits Brookmeyer's composition with hastening the healing process). As for Brookmeyer, who now considers himself "a composer who also plays [valve] trombone," he has the two brief "Interludes" largely to himself, and, as always, solos marvelously.
The mournful "Elegy" was penned for another of Brookmeyer's friends, composer Earle Brown, who was near death when it was written. The orchestra doesn't let him down, nor does Goessens, whose eloquent and responsive solo heightens its emotional impact. From "Elegy," the NAO launches into the powerful "Get Well Soon," goaded by Hollenbeck's assertive drumming and animated by Heller's loquacious soloan altogether suitable conclusion to an impressive panorama by two bright and indomitable forces, Bob Brookmeyer and the New Art Ochestra.
Track Listing: Tah-DUM!; Monster Rally; For You; Over Here; Interlude #1; Lovely; Song, Sing, Sung; Interlude #2; Elegy; Get Well Soon (65:36).
Personnel: Bob Brookmeyer, composer, arranger, conductor, valve trombone; Thorsten Beckenstein, Torsten Maass, Sebastian Strempel, Eckhard Baur, Aneel Soomary, trumpet; Marko Lackner, Oliver Leicht, Paul Heller, Niels van Haften, Edgar Herzog, reeds; Steve Trop, Christian Jaksjo, trombone; Anders Wiborg, Ed Partyka, bass trombone; Hendrik Soll, synthesizer; Kris Goessens, piano; Ingmar Heller, bass; John Hollenbeck, drums. Guest artist -- Till Br
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.