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Bud Brisbois: Rocket Man

Jack Bowers By

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Jazz Journal International, one of the several overseas magazines to which I subscribe, carries a fairly regular column entitled “The Forgotten Ones,” wherein are biographical sketches of musicians who were celebrated in their day but have long since been consigned to the back roads of history. They’ve not yet profiled the late Bud Brisbois, but they could. Brisbois, a contemporary of upper–register monarch Maynard Ferguson, matched Maynard high–note for high–note in his prime, which lasted from the late ’50s until his death in 1978 at age 41 and is documented on this affectionate memorial album produced by fellow trumpeter Kevin Seeley who leads a pretty good band of his own in Seattle, WA. Although the CD is almost devoid of biographical information, and Brisbois (no surprise) isn’t mentioned in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz or the All Music Guide to Jazz, we do know that he, like Ferguson, anchored Stan Kenton’s powerhouse trumpet section for a time, and had a number of bands of his own including Butane, one of whose members, Bobby Shew, penned Rocket Man’s liner notes. Brisbois was one of those rare lead trumpeters who also had a flair for improvisation, soloed quite capably, and, according to Shew, even tried his hand at singing (only one example of which, “Love Handles,” is included here). The seventeen selections cover a twenty–two year span from 1956–78 beginning with a performance of “Embraceable You” with the Denny Murphy Band in Minnesota and ending with two numbers recorded in ’78 with the Lawrence University Studio Orchesta. The sound quality on most of them ranges from barely acceptable to downright dreadful (Bud apparently played wherever he could find some warm bodies and a bandstand) but when it isn’t, as for example on “Rose Hips” — recorded in 1973 with the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note — one can glimpse, however briefly, his awesome technique and power. The tracks set down at Wisconsin’s Lawrence University in ’78 show that Brisbois continued to play marvelously even in his final year. What matters most about this recording is not the sound, or whether Brisbois’ most memorable performances are included, but that someone bothered to remember and appreciate his exceptional artistry and to honor him by producing an album and dedicating it to his memory. Thanks, Kevin.

Contact:Kevin Seeley, Seeley Music Productions, 21424 NE 165th St., Woodinville, WA 98072. Web site, www.seeleymusic.com; e–mail, info@seeleymusic.com


Track Listing: Embraceable You; Titan Suite; Danish Twist; Too Beautiful; Evening Star; Stray Horn; Unknown; Unknown; Hang on Sloopy; Latin Holiday; Rose Hips; Peter Gunn; Peter Gunn encore; Love Handles; The Shadow of Your Smile; Where Am I Going?; Where Am I Going? encore (69:56).

Personnel: Bud Brisbois, trumpet, with various orchestras and smaller groups.

Title: Rocket Man | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Seeley Music Productions


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