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Spirit Music

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Album Review

Bob Brookmeyer is one of a handful of jazz musicians who consistently turns out compelling recordings featuring original music performed by large ensembles. Spirit Music is among his finest efforts, yet another collaboration with the splendid New Art Orchestra, which excels in its interpretations of his demanding charts. Although Brookmeyer occasionally solos on valve trombone, his primary instrument is the orchestra itself, which he conducts with precision. Some of the works, such as "The Door," have a brooding air, but the bulk of this release reveals a degree of hope. Brookmeyer is at the forefront of "Silver Lining," a swinging piece likely inspired by the standard "Blue Skies." The upbeat "Happy Song" is powered by John Hollenbeck's drumming, with potent solos by trumpeter Ruud Breuls and soprano saxophonist Marko Lackner. Breuls is also featured, along with the leader, in the melancholy, very moving ballad "Alone."


Born: December 19, 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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