Night Lights Classic Jazz

Bob Brookmeyer and Some of His Friends

Bob Brookmeyer, who passed away on December 15, 2011, emerged in the 1950s as a trombonist, composer and arranger steeped in both traditional and modern jazz.

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Getz and Brookmeyer

Photo: Album cover art

Stan Getz was one of several significant musical partners for Bob Brookmeyer in the first decade of his career.

Bob Brookmeyer was a Kansas City native who grew up immersed in the swing and sound of the city’s 1930s/40s musical heyday, and who went on to become one of the leading modernists of the 1950s and early 60s. After apprenticing with the big bands of Claude Thornhill, Woody Herman and others, he formed important creative alliances with Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan, all the while honing his mastery of the valve trombone (a trumpet-like sibling to the more common slide trombone). “I found the slide instrument lacked the passion of the valve, and it was easier to say the things I wanted to say with trumpet fingering,” Brookmeyer told a Downbeat writer in 1961.

Brookmeyer found an even bigger way to express himself through his writing, building his reputation throughout the 1950s and early 60s as a first-rate composer and arranger. Jazzwax blogger Marc Myers writes that “Known for his inventive touch, Bob’s charts took risks and consistently featured structured drama, linear tension and potent swing.” Paying tribute to both his soloing and his writing, “Bob Brookmeyer and Some of His Friends” celebrates the trombonist, pianist, composer and arranger’s 80th birthday (Dec. 19, 2009) with some of his early recordings, featuring Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Giuffre, and more, including a dueling-pianos date with Bill Evans.

Read Jazzwax blogger Marc Myers’ interview with Bob Brookmeyer.

Jazz historian Ted Gioia on Stan Getz and Brookmeyer’s recording of Rustic Hop.

The New York Times listens with Bob Brookmeyer.

UPDATE: read composer, bandleader, and Brookmeyer protege Darcy James Argue’s excellent 80th-birthday tribute to Mr. Brookmeyer.

Music Heard On This Episode

Who Could Care
Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer — Recorded Fall 1961 (Verve, 1961)
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Who Could Care
Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer — Recorded Fall 1961 (Verve, 1961)
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Rustic Hop
Stan Getz — Stan Getz and the Cool Sounds (Verve, 2002)
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Laura
Gerry Mulligan — Pleyel Concert V. 2 (BMG International, 2000)
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Open Country
Gerry Mulligan — At Storyville (Blue Note, 1956)
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Trav'lin Light
Jimmy Giuffre — Trav'lin Light (Atlantic/Collectables, 1958)
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Louisiana
Bob Brookmeyer — Traditionalism Revisited (Pacific Jazz, 1957)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Honeysuckle Rose
Bill Evans/Bob Brookmeyer — The Ivory Hunters (Lonehill, 1959)
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Body and Soul
Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band — At the Village Vanguard (Universal, 2002)
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Some of My Best Friends
Bob Brookmeyer — Gloomy Sunday & Other Bright Moments (Polygram, 1961)
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Haig & Haig
Clark Terry/Bob Brookmeyer — Complete Studio Recordings (LoneHill, 2005)
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Skylark
Bob Brookmeyer — Bob Brookmeyer & Friends (Sony, 1965)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • bthope

    Just one disappointment, as a Mac user I can't do Realaudio, what a drag. Outside of that, it was a massive delight to tour all the goodies within this article. All we jazz freaks, especially those outside the U.S. owe a huge debt of thanks to you for letting us into this, together with the wonder of the World Wide Web. I will find a way of listening somehow, is it available as a podcast, or when might it be? (I don't use RA because they want to own your soul). With this one effort, I get my two favourite jazzmen, terrific.

  • bthope

    Just one disappointment, as a Mac user I can't do Realaudio, what a drag. Outside of that, it was a massive delight to tour all the goodies within this article. All we jazz freaks, especially those outside the U.S. owe a huge debt of thanks to you for letting us into this, together with the wonder of the World Wide Web. I will find a way of listening somehow, is it available as a podcast, or when might it be? (I don't use RA because they want to own your soul). With this one effort, I get my two favourite jazzmen, terrific.

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