Bob Brookmeyer, conductor, valve trombone; and the New Art Orchestra
All compositions by Bob Brookmeyer. And right on they are, too. This painterly material is played by not just a big band, but a real orchestra in every sense of the word. These pieces emit light and dark, but there's not a dull cloud anywhere in Brookmeyer's playfulness that he mixes within the somber pieces. It is mostly more sentimental than sad, and all of the color, shading and texture is given by the glorious swell of the ensemble work. The brass is not brassy, but comes as an outpouring of gold. "For Maria" (track 3) is a lovely example of Brookmeyer giving full vent to his subconscious, and there are some equally expressive before and after. Brookmeyer, along with Guiffre and Hall, have moved on from those button-down days in 1958 at Newport, although even at that early date you could hear them pushing towards the broader spheres. It is little wonder that Maria Schneider is mentioned in the liner notes for Brookmeyer must be her counterpart. "American Tragedy" is a lament, of course. Funny thing is, though, I could almost see them shuffling up Bourbon Street, only the solitary bass beat was missing, and I swear there is an element of the blues in there somewhere. This all-European orchestra is given some marvelous charts to play and the execution is superb. Here is a crock of gold if ever there was one. Highly recommended.
by Lawrence Brazier
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