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BROOKMEYER CIRCA 1956 & 1960/61,
This review is from: Four Classic Albums (Recorded Fall 1961 / Brookmeyer / Tonite's Music Today / The Blues Hot And Cold) (Audio CD)
This 2-CD set presents the legendary valve trombonist acting as co-leader with Zoot Sims on the January 1956 album "Tonite's Music Today" and as leader of three separate studio groups on the self-titled "Brookmeyer" from October of the same year. He's leader of the BB Quartet on "The Blues - Hot and Cold" from June 1960, and finally shares leadership on "Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer" from September 1961.
Let me take the albums in order of presentation. The reunion of Bobby (as then styled) and Stan produced a creative session in which both could stretch out, and the fruits of which make for enjoyable listening. The rhythm section is much in evidence, in particular Roy Haynes' busy drumming. At a little over 10 minutes before it fades out, "Minuet circa '61" is in danger of outstaying its welcome, but that's the longest track. Pride of place must go to the lovely ballad A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, which is taken at a reflective pace that gives full weight to its lyricism. The three groups on "Brookmeyer" (a 12-piece big band, and two 8-piece aggregations) share three tracks apiece, the different instrumentation adding to the variety. Apart from Brookmeyer, the other constants are Al Cohn on tenor and Osie Johnson on drums. With plenty of opportunity for solo outings, it's a judicious mix of up-tempo numbers, Latin rhythms, and slow ballads, In the third category "Nature Boy" (one of the two numbers arranged by Cohn) is played in a wistful mood, with Brookmeyer soloing on piano, as he does also on "Big City Life".
The album with Zoot Sims was recorded during a period when both men were playing in the Gerry Mulligan Sextet, and not surprisingly there are echoes of his influence in the prevailing mood. Hank Jones pitches in with a will on piano, and the line-up is completed by Wyatt Reuther on bass and Gus Johnson on drums. The final album is even more stripped down, with Brookmeyer accompanied by the stellar trio of Jimmy Rowles on piano, Mel Lewis on drums, and Buddy Clark on bass. Summing up, this offers the chance to hear Brookmeyer alone, with two tenor giants, and in big band settings. Sound quality is superb, and this has to be a great bargain.