Get Well Soon (Challenge Records)

Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra featuring Till Brönner

Released January 2004

Grammy Nominee Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2005




In the fall of 1999, I was asked to do a Young People’s Concert in Cologne, at the Philharmonie Hall, featuring a trumpet player named Till Brönner. I had heard a little of him on CD but was completely unprepared when we began ‘Tah-DUM’ at rehearsal. The jaw hitting the floor was mine. An amazing player AND he swung!! We became friends and planned to work together in the future – well, the future arrived in August 2002 and this may well be your introduction to him. I felt that I had two parts of the Suite that would work well for him (with “fixing”) and the ballad (‘For You’) was specifically tailored for this recording. ‘Over Here’ comes from 1994 and had been waiting for us to do it justice. Till does many things musically but has maintained has integrity and desire and I am very pleased that he could join us. We don’t invite guest soloists often and, from us, it’s an honor. He did us proud.

This – our third CD – also gave me a chance to show you more fully two of our most gifted members – Kris Goessens (piano) and Paul Heller (tenor). With the flood of tenor saxophonists surrounding us, finding Paul in 1994 was a new beginning for me and the instrument. He looks like an angel and plays like the devil. On ‘Get Well Soon’ he had a very difficult task for an improviser – basically playing over one chord type (a half-diminished) which shifts around a narrow center and gives you, in essence, a pair of handcuffs to deal with. His response was amazing AND he gets excited!! When the band begins to roar he cannot help feeling the excitement and joins in. This is NOT a normal response for most musicians playing any instrument these days – people have become careful and organized. Not Paul – he screams with delight! A stunning performance.

The ‘Get Well Soon’ wish was for my dear Norwegian friend Jan Horne, who was recovering from cancer. He, and his lady, Kirsten, were our witnesses when we were married in Norway in 1988 and Jan and I have been friends for 22 years since he made a documentary on me for NRK TV. He IS getting well and says the tune helped.

Kris Goessens is one of the world’s best kept secrets, something he and I hope to alter soon, playing duo on concerts tours. He has a depth of feeling and touch that I find unequaled by anyone I have heard. He also has a quiet, daring use of space and register that break accepted barriers AND patience to allow an idea to unfold and fully speak. His language is his and he feels almost painfully the act of creation. I am unashamedly biased – he and his wife Amanda were students of mine in 1991 when I lived in Rotterdam. They also take care of my beautiful godson, Ilya. My bias, however, is well founded and rarely given.

Another of my essentials is John Hollenbeck. I have extolled his virtues many times before, but every time the Orchestra gathers, he brings new energy and a growing experimental madness that allows him to create without fear. Besides this all, he has a beautiful sound, taste, delicacy and enough rockets and flares to light the sky for days. He is now becoming a composer and band leader but he promised no to forget us. We need him!!

‘Elegy’ is a special piece of music to me – I wrote it while my dear friend, Earle Brown (the great composer), was in the process of dying. He was a close friend, unfailingly supportive, my teacher and a walking sunbeam. I wanted his wife, Susan, to have a graphic “good-bye” that she could possess. When she can listen to it without crying, she will have begun healing. They remain to me two of the most remarkable people I have ever known. ‘Lovely’ just appeared – ‘Song, Sing, Sung’ is a movement from a larger work I did for the Danish Radio. I wanted it for Kris to sing on.

Thorsten Beckenstein is, to me, the best lead trumpet player I could hope for. I hear none that please me more. His presence and musicality guide us all and, surrounded by Torsten Mass and Sebastian Strempel, they don’t allow us to stray far from the center. It has been my good fortune to become associated with an incredible group of people – they love what they do, they thrive on their friendships and they give everything they have to me and my music. A friend told me: “You have found the perfect instrument for you music,” and he is right. What he couldn’t know is the love and heart and friendship these 18 people give to me and to each other. I have never experienced anything like it. Thank you, my dear friends.

Bob Brookmeyer

Track Listing:

1. Tah-DUM! (Till Brönner) 5:45

2. Monster Rally (Till Brönner) 10:22

3. For You (Till Brönner) 7:46

4. Over Here (Till Brönner) 8:11

5. Interlude #1 (Till Brönner) 2:08

6. Lovely (Till Brönner) 4:47

7. Song, Sing, Sung (Till Brönner) 8:11

8. Interlude #2 (Till Brönner) 1: 28

9. Elegy (Till Brönner) 9:25

10. Get Well Soon (Till Brönner) 7:33


Bob Brookmeyer: conductor, valve trombone

Thorsten Beckenstein, Torsten Maass, Sebastian Strempel, Eckhard Baur, Aneel Soomary: trumpet

Marko Lackner, Oliver Leicht, Paul Heller, Niels van Haften, Edgar Herzog: reeds

Steve Trop, Christian Jaksjo: trombone

Anders Wiborg, Ed Partyka: bass trombone

Hendrik Soll: synthesizer

Kris Goessens: piano

Ingmar Heller: bass

John Hollenbeck: drums

Guest soloist

Till Brönner: trumpet

Recorded August 23-25, 2002 at Bauer Studios in Ludwigsburg, Germany

Produced by Bob Brookmeyer ans Carlos Albrecht

Mastered by Manuel Michalski, Philipp Heck

Recorded and Mixed by Carlos Albrecht

Design by Marcel Van Den Broek


Get Well Soon is the third recording by the New Art Orchestra, an eighteen-piece ensemble formed nearly two decades ago in Lubeck, Germany, as a jazz component of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and overseen since its inception by the renowned American trombonist and composer, Bob Brookmeyer. Brookmeyer loves the NAO (“It has been my good fortune to become associated with an incredible group of people,” he says. “They love what they do, they thrive on their friendships, and they give everything they have to me and my music”)—and the NAO loves him back, the proof of which is readily apparent to anyone who peruses the results of their collaborative efforts.

To Brookmeyer, love doesn’t mean spoon-feeding his colleagues easily digestible fodder, and the charts he sets before them are as strenuous and sophisticated as one could envision. But the NAO seems unfazed, mastering the tricky metric shifts and harmonic variations with the sort of ease one associates with a leisurely stroll in the park. As a writer, Brookmeyer calls to mind Bill Holman and Gil Evans, among others, singular artists who use the entire orchestra as a canvas on which to paint their elaborate and expressive musical portraits. This is nowhere more apparent than on the exuberant opener, “Tah-DUM!”, on which the NAO offers guest trumpeter Till Brönner a lively welcome with pianist Kris Goessens and drummer John Hollenbeck setting the compass while Brönner dances nimbly through and around the changes.

Brönner is also showcased on “Monster Rally,” “Over Here” and the entrancing ballad “For You” (on flugelhorn); Goessens on “Song, Sing, Sung” and “Elegy”; tenor saxophonist Paul Heller on “Get Well Soon,” the last written for Brookmeyer’s Norwegian friend Jan Horne, who is recovering from a recent battle with cancer (and credits Brookmeyer’s composition with hastening the healing process). As for Brookmeyer, who now considers himself “a composer who also plays [valve] trombone,” he has the two brief “Interludes” largely to himself, and, as always, solos marvelously.

The mournful “Elegy” was penned for another of Brookmeyer’s friends, composer Earle Brown, who was near death when it was written. The orchestra doesn’t let him down, nor does Goessens, whose eloquent and responsive solo heightens its emotional impact. From “Elegy,” the NAO launches into the powerful “Get Well Soon,” goaded by Hollenbeck’s assertive drumming and animated by Heller’s loquacious solo—an altogether suitable conclusion to an impressive panorama by two bright and indomitable forces, Bob Brookmeyer and the New Art Ochestra.

Jack Bowers (All About Jazz)