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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, and when Kenny joins with Frank Carlberg on piano and John Hollenbeck on drums, the thaw is on. Brookmeyer and Wheeler join voices and justifiably show off their tones. Carlberg plays off the time to push the momentum, then it drops back to Brookmeyer and Allen with Hollenbeck whispering on cymbals. By the time Wheeler gets to drive the engine’s warmed up and he delights in sharp turns. Beginning slow and spacious, Wheeler’s “114” coalesces with soulful interplay between the horns. The rhythm section sets it on simmer while Wheeler takes a thrill ride solo. Brookmeyer covers as much ground with fewer notes. The ensemble plays a majestic outro.
“Song for Kenny” gives Wheeler some elegant minors to play through. He states the theme and finds Brookmeyer on the bridge. Their counterpoint gives way to Wheeler’s flowing take, which in turn yields to Brookmeyer’s swinging assessment. The piece ends wistfully. “Upstairs with Beatrice” swings with Brookmeyer telling his story first. Carlberg plays a repetitive line against a quirky drum pattern until Wheeler sails through sweeping everyone along. The arrangement includes some fine unison playing by the horns.
Brookmeyer’s “Island” boasts an exotic melody first stated by Wheeler. The sparse rhythm section leaves Wheeler and Brookmeyer room to trade lines and solo. The band lays out as Carlberg plays a dramatic interlude. Hollenbeck’s cymbals recreate wave song. “Strange One” works a Hollenbecks’s bowed bass and repetitive figure from Carlberg against Wheeler’s flight of inspiration. Brookmeyer turns the melody over while Hollenbeck experiments with odd ambient sounds.
The Brookmeyer/Wheeler collaboration shows two long time players apparently still in ascent.
Track Listing: Before the First Time; 114; Where Do We Go From Here?; Song for Kenny; Upstairs with Beatrice; Island; Strange One.
Personnel: Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone); Kenny Wheeler, trumpet, flugelhorn; Frank Colberg, piano; Jeremy Allen, bass; John Hollenback, drums.
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock. It was love at first sight . This was when Blues, Soul / Gospel Style Music was becoming popular amongst kids as well as hip adults and featured Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner and The Payola era DJ's such as Alan Freed. Not many people remember that Freed's Rock n Roll Band of the 1950's was The Count Basie Orchestra featuring the Guy Singer Tony Bennett (Anthony DiBenedetto) who grew up in Astoria, NYNY right next to my Home Town Jackson Heights NYNY.
I was first exposed to jazz when I heard Red Prysock, Sam The Man Taylor & groups like the Chord Cats recording of Shaboom! It made the Crew Cuts look LAME! Now Jazz, Blues, Soul, Gospel was pretty much joined at the hip back then and I learned that the tasteful Music was featured on The African American Radio Stations which led me to DJ's Like The Bruce, Jocko Henderson, Tommy Dr. Jive Smalls and eventually Symphony Sid Torin, China Valles and Len Pace. This all took place during my high school years and the following years in NYNY and South Florida. I actually flew to Copenhagen Denmark in 1961 to see Stan Getz, (One of my top 3 heroes in the Music Bird, Pres & Getz not necessarily in that order). Sadly Getz had already left town and snuck back into NYNY where he played Birdland (Undoubtedly without a cabaret card due to smack addiction.) No problem for me as I worked for Pan American Airways at the time and enjoyed a 90% Employee Discount.
I met Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lenny Tristano, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Frank Foster, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among many others over the years.
The best show I ever attended was The Randall's Island Jazz Festival NYNY 1960. Monk & Edward Ellington Kennedy AKA Duke, starred among numerous others. I can not recall the entire Line Up but Monk brought along his Hat Collection which at the time contained I believe he told me 33 or 35 international Hats which he periodically changed often during his Solos. I have been unable to find that roster for that particular festival and since it was long ago I remember mostly Monk & Duke. Paul Gonsalvas played his legendary trademark twenty something chorus solo in between Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue which was outstanding.
The first jazz record I bought was Firstly, my Bro George was / is a Marine and he sent home his wax collection of LP's from Camp Pendleton CA before deploying to Okinawa in 1956 I think. Bird, Getz, Mulligan & Baker, Erroll Garner, Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Jazz at Newport 1956 and many more. I fell in love with Bird, Getz and Jeru & Chet for openers. Pres to my mind takes the all time Tenor Award and Budo, Piano etc.! However I digress Getz Long Island Sound and every other Getz record that I could find that was 1957 by then and I snuck in to Birdland for the First of many times before I was 18 ( Legal drinking age back then) It wasn't until just after my 18th Birthday that I was carded much to the bouncers chagrin as he recognized me as having being an established customer by then.
My advice to new listeners: Listen to the Music and keep it in the forefront not the background. A Local Band Leader whose name escapes me once said to me Jerry you can make time for the chicks later the Music is in the now and is more important than chicks ever will be. He was correct!
Next see live performances and introduce yourself to the Players most of whom will be respectful. Some, however, are unapproachable such as when I saw Miles so many times but his obvious disdain for certain fans was evident and he always walked off the stage after soloing. (Eddie Jefferson sang words to So What that so indicated this)!