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Spirit Music by Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra

Bob Brookmeyer, master of the valve trombone, was an arranger at 14. Influenced by 20th century classical music and such jazz giants as Eddie Sauter, Gil Evans, and George Russell he has become a leader in the evolution of the big band. During the eighties he applied his compositional and arranging talents to the Mel Lewis band and for the past decade his vehicle of choice has been his New Art Orchestra. Brookmeyer selects and directs the musicians, who are largely drawn from Germany.

Scott Yanow, in his liner notes for the orchestra's 1999 debut CD, New Works, ranked them as " one of the finest jazz-based big bands around today" and described Brookmeyer as "a composer and player who continues to grow and develop." Their fifth release, Spirit Music, confirms Yanow's assessment. While the instrumentation is standard big band, augmented by English horn and synthesizer, the orchestra's creative output defies categorization. There's strength in this band, and continuity without apathy. The integration of soloists and orchestra is superb. About half of the players, including the lead trumpeter, drummer and most of the soloists, appeared on New Works.

"The Door" is a beautiful theme. introduced by the English horn of guest Kirsty Wilson and restated with the power of the orchestra and the soaring alto of Marko Lackner. The tenderness and tranquility of "New Love" is expressed in Brookmeyer's chart and Nils Van Haften's tenor. Next are two dances: "Dance for Life" is a lilting arrangement that builds and builds, with drama provided by Ruud Brells' trumpet. "Happy Song" has a Celtic flavor and is full of shifting rhythms, counterpoint and percussion. The suggestion of melancholy that Brookmeyer mentions in his notes is apparent in "Alone" but quickly alleviated with the swingin' "Silver Lining." He contributes inspired solos to both. "The End" is a solemn ensemble piece ending with Bach-like exchanges between pianist and orchestra.

Brookmeyer is proud of the New Art Orchestra's musicianship and dedication. He deserves to be. Spirit Song reaches out to the human heart and spirit. It made me want to stop writing and just listen ...listen...listen.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra
  • CD Title: Spirit Music
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: ArtistShare
  • Tracks: The Door, New Love, Dance for Life, Happy Song, Alone, Silver Lining, The End
  • Musicians: Bob Brookmeyer (composer, arranger, conductor, valve trombone), Thorsten Benkenstein, Sebastian Strempel, Torsten Maass, Ekhard Baur, Ruud Breuls (trumpet), Marko Lackner, Oliver Leicht, Nils van Haften, Matthias Erlewein, Edgar Herzog (reeds), Dominik Stoger, Christian Jaksjo, Anders Wiborg, Ed Partyka (trombone), Kris Goessens (piano), Hendrik Soll (synthesizer), Ingmar Heller, (bass), John Hollenbeck (drums). Guest soloist: Kirsty Wilson (English horn)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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