In fact, the few short passages when we have the opportunity to hear Brookmeyer’s clear, concise combination of color and line on valve trombone occur during the two interludes on Get Well Soon. For less than two minutes, Brookmeyer plays with piano/bass/drums, the interludes being connecting tracks with fresh and unadorned pure improvisation. Throughout the remainder of Get Well Soon, the New Art Orchestra fulfills Brookmeyer’s musical intentions, his presence a component of all of the tracks even when he doesn’t play. For instance, the care and devotion that he invested in "Elegy" was a gift to his friend Earle Brown’s widow, written as Brown was dying, to help her through the grieving process, though its evocative passages, recalling some shared between Brookmeyer and his mentor Brown, emerge from the tonal palette of the NAO. "Lovely" itself evolves as a tone poem, a thing of beauty entirely self-contained as the narrative builds from the initial descending octaves under the suspended first notes into a melody of discovery as if the listener were going through doors that Brookmeyer’s hypnotic linear passages lure them toward.
Two other musicians are of special note, even though their roles are not as prominent as Brönner’s. Particularly on "Song, Sing, Sung" (ironic because it stands in stark contrast of spirit to the famous Benny Goodman/Gene Krupa version of "Sing Sing Sing"), pianist Kris Goessens kicks off the performance with an introduction of eerie trebled apparent dissonance over the bass-clef pedal tone in octaves, establishing the spirit of the piece before the Orchestra’s sections come in. And on the opening track, "Tah-DUM!" Goessens, in conjunction with the cymbal-crashing of drummer John Hollenbeck, sets up the sense of fun in the middle section with the single-note rhythm that creates the occasion for Brönner’s free improvisation. And then saxophonist Paul Heller enjoys his own space for stretching out with controlled abandon on "Get Well Soon," apparently inspired by the sound of the Orchestra behind him. Considering the unity of the New Art Orchestra, whether in gentle swing or in balladic ease, one suspects that every member of the Orchestra could claim attention as a soloist and contribute an inspiring statement, given the time and opportunity to so do.
As one of the few remaining prominent jazz orchestrators, inspiring musicians and orchestrators like Maria Schneider in the generation that follows his, Bob Brookmeyer continues to reinvent himself, adding even more notable accomplishments beyond his work in ground-breaking groups of the 1950’s and his arrangements for the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band of the 1960’s. Brookmeyer has found the perfect outlet for his talent with the New Art Orchestra, and the NAO is fortunate as well to have a leader such as Brookmeyer to help it achieve its potential.