Overtime: Music of Bob Brookmeyer (Planet Arts)

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Released August 15, 2014 

Grammy Nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2015






The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is not your father’s Mel Lewis-Thad Jones Jazz Orchestra on “Overtime Music of Bob Brookmeyer”. By that I mean the Jones-Lewis big band had a certain personality, due in large part from Thad Jones arrangements. The music, on this current issue, really draws all its personality from Bob Brookmeyer’s writing and arrangements (seven Brookmeyer originals plus Skylark). And it s wonderful music very orcherstrational, impressionistic and controlled in its setting and presentation, there is room for improvising [Dick Oatts, Scott Wendholt, John Riley, Billy Drews, Rich Perry, Terell Stafford, John Mosca, Ralph Lalama, Gary Smulyan] but the main voice here is Bobby Brookmeyer.

Zim Tarro

Track Listing:

1. The Big Time (Bob Brookmeyer) 4:01

2. Suite For Three: Oatts (Bob Brookmeyer) 5:57

3. Suite For Three: Scott (Bob Brookmeyer) 6:39

4. Suite For Three: Rich (Bob Brookmeyer) 5:41

5. XYZ (Bob Brookmeyer) 14:33

6. Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael / Johnny Mercer) 7:45

7. At the Corner of Ralph and Gary (Bob Brookmeyer) 11:09

8. Sad Song (Bob Brookmeyer) 10:37


Nick Marchione: trumpet, flugelhorn

Tanya Darby: trumpet, flugelhorn

Terell Stafford: trumpet, flugelhorn

Scott Wendholt: trumpet, flugelhorn

Dick Oatts: alto, soprano sax, flute

Billy Drewes: alto, soprano sax, flute

Rich Perry: tenor sax, flute

Ralph Lalama: tenor sax, flute, clarinet

Gary Smulyan: baritone sax

John Mosca: trombone

Luis Bonilla: trombone

Jason Jackson: trombone, bass trombone

Douglas Purviance: bass trombone

Jim McNeely: piano

David Wong: bass

John Riley: drums

Mike Truesdell: percussion (1, 5, 8)

Frank Basile: bass clarinet (3, 5, 8)

David Peel: French horn (1, 5, 6, 8)

Recorded at Sear Sound, NYC, June 11 & 12, 2014 

Produced by Douglas Purviance

Recorded by Jay Messina

Mastered by Alan Silverman

Mixed by Gary Chester


Bob Brookmeyer was a charter member of the Jazz Band, otherwise known as the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and eventually the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. From the beginning he not only played valve trombone but also wrote for the group. Brookmeyer moved to the West Coast in 1968, returned to New York a decade later and became musical director of the band until the early 1980s, after which he moved to Europe, returning to the U.S. for extended stays now and then until his death in 2011. This album includes four pieces he wrote in the early ’80s for the then-named Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra and four he wrote for the group during the last eight or so years of his life.
With Brookmeyer, “the soloist and the ensemble are integrated into one continuous fabric,” pianist Jim McNeely writes in the album’s liner notes. As an example, we hear dense, dissonant, floating or swinging ensemble passages with soloists darting in and out of the massed sound. At other times the ensemble builds in a stately manner behind a soloist in a kaleidoscope of harmonic colors and rhythmic intensity. Brookmeyer’s methods range from the sounds of his hometown of Kansas City to the classical composers of Europe.
Dick Oatts is featured on three performances: zipping along on alto saxophone on “Oatts,” probing the emotional depths of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark” (also on alto) and playing flute throughout the very dark, Eastern-sounding “Sad Song.” “Scott,” which features Scott Wendholt on flugelhorn, is a perfect tonal match of soloist and band. Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry matches wits with Brookmeyer’s cooking ensemble figures throughout “Rich.” Another saxophone workout, “At the Corner of Ralph and Gary,” features Ralph Lalama (tenor) and Gary Smulyan (baritone). “XYZ,” which includes several soloists (McNeely, Perry, drummer John Riley, bassist David Wong, soprano saxophonist Billy Drewes, trumpeter Terell Stafford and trombonist John Mosca) goes through several mood and tempo changes. “The Big Time,” the leadoff tune, includes no solos but is a fine introduction to Brookmeyer’s diversity as a composer.

Owen Cordle (JazzTimes)