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Album Review

Bob Brookmeyer has long been an important jazz trombonist, composer, and arranger, recording many of his own albums, in addition to working with Gerry Mulligan, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, and many others. But he also began writing for classical ensembles during the '80s, so when he was approached about a commission to write for the Gustav Klimt String Quartet, he jumped at the chance. After some initial recording, he decided to write an additional work and the Metropole Orchestra was added to the project, necessitating the re-recording of everything, with Brookmeyer conducting. Anyone who has heard Brookmeyer's compelling work New Works Celebration (which was written for Mulligan to perform with a large orchestra) will recognize the composer's style immediately. The opening track, "Fanfares and Folk Song," is a furious, exuberant number showcasing the full orchestra, then ending with just the string quartet and an unidentified pianist. The somber "American Beauty" initially sounds like a requiem, with its mournful feature for cello, though it blossoms into a tender tone poem. The complex yet joyous "A Frolic and a Tune" is full of surprising twists, while the tense "Wood Dance" provides a dramatic closing. Arguments may ensue among listeners as how to label this enticing music, but Duke Ellington's favorite description of works he enjoyed hearing as "beyond category" is more than sufficient.


Born: 19 December 1929 in Kansas City, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Bob Brookmeyer was long considered one of the top valve trombonists in jazz and a very advanced arranger whose writing was influenced by modern classical music. He started out as a pianist in dance bands but played valve trombone with Stan Getz (1953). He gained fame as a member of the Gerry Mulligan quartet (1954-1957), was part of the unusual Jimmy Giuffre Three of 1957-1958 (which consisted of Giuffre's reeds, Brookmeyer's valve trombone, and Jim Hall's guitar), and then re-joined Mulligan as...
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Music for String Quartet and Orchestra, Bob Brookmeyer
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