Robert Edward "Bob" Brookmeyer (December 19, 1929 – December 15, 2011) was an American jazz valve trombonist, pianist, arranger, and composer. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Brookmeyer first gained widespread public attention as a member of Gerry Mulligan's quartet from 1954 to 1957. He later worked with Jimmy Giuffre, before rejoining Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band. He garnered 8 Grammy Award nominations during his lifetime.
|Birth name||Robert Edward Brookmeyer|
|Born||December 19, 1929|
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||December 15, 2011 (aged 81)|
New London, New Hampshire, U.S.
West Coast jazz
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, arranger, educator|
|Instruments||Valve trombone, piano|
|Labels||Impulse!, Mainstream, RCA, Verve|
Brookmeyer began playing professionally in his teens. He attended the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, but did not graduate. He played piano in big bands led by Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, but concentrated on valve trombone from when he moved to the Claude Thornhill orchestra in the early 1950s. He was part of small groups led by Stan Getz, Jimmy Giuffre, and Gerry Mulligan in the 1950s. During the 1950s and 1960s, Brookmeyer played in New York clubs, on television (including being part of the house band for The Merv Griffin Show), and on studio recordings, as well as arranging for Ray Charles and others.
Brookmeyer moved to Los Angeles in 1968 and became a full-time studio musician. He spent 10 years on the West Coast and developed a serious alcohol problem. After he overcame this, he returned to New York. Brookmeyer became the musical director of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra in 1979, although he had not composed any music for a decade. Brookmeyer wrote for and performed with jazz groups in Europe from the early 1980s. He founded and ran a music school in the Netherlands, and taught at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and other institutions.
In June 2005, Brookmeyer joined ArtistShare and announced a project to fund an upcoming third album featuring his New Art Orchestra. The resulting Grammy-nominated CD, titled Spirit Music, was released in 2006. Brookmeyer was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in the same year. His eighth Grammy Award nomination was for an arrangement from the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra's album, Forever Lasting, shortly before his death. That same album was also nominated in the 57th Annual Grammy Awards for the category of Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album; the CD was entirely made up of Brookmeyer's compositions.
One notable element of Brookmeyer's compositional style is his use of contemporary classical writing techniques in his works for big bands and jazz ensembles. In the early 1980's Brookmeyer was mentored by composer Earle Brown, with whom he explored 20th century classical music in depth. Brookmeyer's works since have been influenced by such composers as Witold Lutosławski (whose cello concerto Brookmeyer used often in teaching students about simple motifs), Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, György Ligeti, and Béla Bartók.
Some examples of 20th-century classical compositional techniques used in Brookmeyer's jazz pieces are:
- "ABC Blues", where an atonal tone row is used to generate melodies and harmonies.
- "The Big Time", where polytonality is used to develop melodies used earlier on in the composition.
- Bob Brookmeyer uses chromatic harmony and tone clusters throughout such works as "Seesaw", "Silver Lining", and "Hello and Goodbye".
Honors and awardsEdit
Grammy Awards (nominations)Edit
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1960||Blues Suite', composed by Brookmeyer||Best Arrangement||Nominated|
|1965||The Power Of Positive Swinging, composed by Brookmeyer||Best Instrumental Jazz Performance||Nominated|
|1966||ABC Blues, composed by Brookmeyer||Best Original Jazz Composition||Nominated|
|1980||Skylark, arranged by Brookmeyer||Best Instrumental Arrangement||Nominated|
|2001||Impulsive! (Album)||Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album||Nominated|
|2004||Get Well Soon (Album)||Large Jazz Ensemble Album||Nominated|
|2006||Spirit Music (Album)||Large Jazz Ensemble Album||Nominated|
|2008||St. Louis Blues, arranged by Brookmeyer||Best Instrumental Arrangement||Nominated|
|2011||Nasty Dance, arranged by Brookmeyer||Best Instrumental Arrangement||Nominated|
- Bob Brookmeyer Quartet (Pacific Jazz, 1954)
- Bob Brookmeyer Plays Bob Brookmeyer and Some Others (Clef, 1955)
- Happy Minors (Bethlehem, 1955) with Red Mitchell, Zoot Sims
- The Dual Role of Bob Brookmeyer (Prestige, 1956) – recorded in 1954-55
- Tonite's Music Today with Zoot Sims (Storyville, 1956)
- Whooeeee with Zoot Sims (Storyville, 1956)
- Bob Brookmeyer Quintet (Vogue, 1956)
- Urso and Brookmeyer with Phil Urso (Savoy, 1956)
- Brookmeyer (Vik, 1957) – recorded in 1956
- Traditionalism Revisited (World Pacific, 1957)
- The Street Swingers (World Pacific, 1958)
- Jazz Concerto Grosso with Gerry Mulligan (ABC–Paramount, 1958) – play Phil Sunkel, recorded in 1957.
- They Met at the Continental Divide with Trombones Inc. (Warner Bros., 1959)
- Kansas City Revisited (United Artists, 1959)
- The Ivory Hunters with Bill Evans (United Artists, 1959)
- Jazz Is a Kick (Mercury, 1960)
- Portrait of the Artist (Atlantic, 1960)
- The Blues Hot and Cold (His Master's Voice, 1960)
- Gloomy Sunday and Other Bright Moments (Verve, 1961)
- 7 x Wilder (Verve, 1961)
- Trombone Jazz Samba (Verve, 1962)
- Bob Brookmeyer and Friends (Columbia, 1964)
- The Bob Brookmeyer Small Band (Gryphon, 1978)
- Back Again (Sonet, 1979)
- Through a Looking Glass (Finesse, 1981)
- Oslo (Concord Jazz, 1987)
- Morning Fun with Zoot Sims (Black Lion, 1989)
- Electricity (ACT, 1994) - recorded in 1991
- As It Happened Vol. 1 with Roger Kellaway (Jazz Heritage, 1994)
- Paris Suite (Challenge, 1995)
- Out of This World with Metropole Orchestra (Koch Jazz, 1998)
- Old Friends (Storyville, 1998) - recorded in 1994
- New Works Celebration (Challenge, 1999) - recorded in 1997
- Together with Mads Vinding (Challenge, 1999)
- Holiday (Challenge, 2001) – plays piano
- Madly Loving You with the Ed Partyka Jazz Orchestra (Challenge, 2001)
- Stay Out of the Sun (Challenge, 2003) - recorded in 2000
- Get Well Soon with New Art Orchestra (Challenge, 2003) - recorded in 2002
- Island with Kenny Wheeler (Artists House, 2003) - recorded in 2002
- Spirit Music with New Art Orchestra (ArtistShare, 2006)
With Manny Albam
With Chet Baker
With Al Cohn
With Stan Getz
With Jimmy Giuffre
With Woody Herman
With Gerry Mulligan
With George Russell
With Don Sebesky
With Bud Shank
With Zoot Sims
With Clark Terry
- Keepnews, Peter (December 18, 2011). "Bob Brookmeyer, Jazz Musician and educator, Dies at 81". The New York Times.
- Berendt, Joachim (1976). The Jazz Book. Paladin. p. 380.
- Berendt, Joachim (1976). The Jazz Book. Paladin. p. 384.
- Berendt, Joachim (1976). The Jazz Book. Paladin. p. 199.
- "Tribute to Bob Brookmeyer". clarkterry.com. December 19, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- artsjournal obituary. Archived May 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- Guerra, Stephen J. Jr. (2016). A Study of Bob Brookmeyer's Compositional Style for Large Jazz Ensemble. p. 55.
- Guerra, Stephen J. Jr. (2016). A Study of Bob Brookmeyer's Compositional Style for Large Jazz Ensemble. pp. 56–70.