PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Bob Brookmeyer: Bob Brookmeyer and Friends

Robert R. Calder

The set is something of a period piece, incidental to the quality of the music. It ain't demanding stuff, but nice.

Bob Brookmeyer

Bob Brookmeyer and Friends

Label: Legacy
US Release Date: 2005-08-16
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate

Gary Burton gets to do the memoir which follows the original sleevenotes, and tells an amazing story of big company jazz recording at its most bizarre. Stan Getz fetched him along for moral support after a studio day when nothing usable was recorded. Burton was 21 at the time, and during sessions spent a lot of time chatting to Elvin Jones while the tenorist fretted, Ron Carter stayed above the fray, and the leader maintained a continuing argument with the producer, Two Macero, over what precisely was to be recorded. Macero, according to Burton, had his all-star band, one from Trane and two from Miles Davis and (wow!) Stan Getz.

What's next? You're kidding? Can't you play a standard?

I'm not sure what young Herbie Hancock did when the Streit was in process on the topic of repertoire-- it apparently lasted a long time -- but Tony Bennett was there one day and recorded words to Johnny Hodges' "Daydream", a track stuck in the archives till now. Bennett and Getz had been working together and did manage to record rather more around the time. Though, for contractual or other reasons, the music didn't come out until not that long back.

Dave Brubeck has several times lately expressed his bemusement over what happened when he arrived to record the subsequent hit album with "Take Five" on it. He's had no idea there were unwritten laws about repertoire, and that he was flouting an ancient law (well, one about as old as the LP record, maybe 10 years) as to what a jazz album had to contain.

Original compositions? Hold on a minute!

Neither Brubeck nor Brookmeyer could necessarily be assumed wholly sympathetic to the fad for original compositions which has in late times given cause for wariness of new albums: you don't need to listen to us play material you've heard elsewhere. Listen, instead, to us repeat things a few times which you hadn't heard before this album.

Like Burton, the author of the notes in the rear of the jewel-case speaks of a final outcome in which five Brookmeyer compositions were recorded. The track-list has only four! Macero, it seemed, wanted as few new things as possible. There was a compromise, which Burton is glad of because he likes to listen to the great men play standards.

Brookmeyer's "Jive Hoot" can hardly have disturbed Macero? Burton says he was amazed at the friendly reception Brookmeyer gave him when he arrived unexpected bearing vibes. Brookmeyer even fixed out some of the arrangements to include him, and however "Jive Hoot" might have sounded without him it is marvellous with him. People who've heard his amazing new quintet should notice the young Burton's slightly squarer phrasing with its tonal spread. Brookmeyer plays a chorus on a "Misty" which has Getz at his tenderest.

"The Wrinkle" has some echoes of Mingus, melodically and rhythmically, but soft, with unaccompanied stop-time passages in each solo, after each of which Ron Carter brings things on. On "Bracket", Brookmeyer is more in the bag of Mingus' stalwart the late Jimmy Knepper. Jones participates in the vigorous but urbane chase choruses which conclude the number.

The set is something of a period piece, incidental to the quality of the music. It ain't demanding stuff, but nice. Macero wanted wide appeal and got it.

"Skylark" does, however, have some interesting melodic invention, and Getz playing in accompaniment to other soloists. Soothing. The horns also work well together on "Something Else". With "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" there's no dearth of ballad interest. Brookmeyer mellow and Getz in the same passionate tender mode as on "Misty".

The original closer, Gershwin's "Who Cares", is distinguished by the mighty drumming of Elvin Jones as both outstanding accompanist to Brookmeyer's solo and as soloist himself. Jones overall shows just what variety of range he had. "Day Dream" has Bennett singing words to a Johnny Hodges tune on a set where Getz does now and then recall Hodges. Brookmeyer's "Pretty Girl" could well have words put to it.

My computer did crash when I went back to check something in the course of typing this review. I hadn't cancelled the software and page for another of the CDs in this batch. Funny business: I can't see that there's anything to be gained by this electronic supplementation. Presumably it will be a topic for other reviewers, handling other discs with the same extra-musical stuff aboard.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.