The strengths of Bob Brookmeyer's writing for large jazz ensembles have been well documented throughout his career. But the New Art Orchestra, which joins him for the third time on this Challenge CD, seems especially in tune to his demanding charts. None of these compositions is easily absorbed by the listener, as it takes time to catch the nuances of each piece. One special guest, trumpeter Till Bronner, was added to the ensemble for this recording. Among his features are the tense "Tah-DUM!," the fragile but gorgeous ballad "For You," and "Over Here," a sophisticated piece that defies labels. The leader's praise of the trumpeter's efforts is hardly hyperbole. "Song, Sing, Sung" is a haunting melody powered by John Hollenbeck's imaginative yet soft percussion and Kris Goessens' brilliant piano solo. Two works have special meaning for their creator. "Elegy" was written for a dying friend, a somber yet satisfying work honoring Earle Brown (also a composer), whose friendship obviously made a difference in the life of Brookmeyer and others. "Get Well Soon" was dedicated to another friend, Jan Horne, who was in the midst of a battle with cancer, yet this upbeat and in-your-face post-bop chart has absolutely nothing maudlin or subtle within it, sounding more like a hard battle in the process of being won. Though Brookmeyer's role is primarily as conductor, he still has the chops to play superb solos, as in the brief "Interlude No. 1" and "Interlude No. 2" with the rhythm section. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden