Bob Brookmeyer

Old Friends

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The valve trombone is a sort of poor man's trombone. At least, it is not taken quite as seriously as perhaps it should be. Bob Brookmeyer is one of its few famous practitioners, and he has been plying his skills for decades. Brookmeyer is also an accomplished big band arranger, and his talents often veer in that direction. For many, though, he is a much better player than writer, and this recording showcases him in a favorable light as leader of a very fine acoustic quartet, performing a set of five standards. He is at heart a conservative soloist. He improvises at length, his nasal tone and legato tonguing his hallmarks. The note selection is near perfect, perhaps too much so for some. You might call him a gentleman player, the ideal complement for the garden party. He plays the way you might hum a solo, nicely constructed, quietly, and tastefully. Yet, if not too adventurous, the valve trombonist is always comfortable to hear, a fine pleasure like an old shoe or a warm cup of hot chocolate on a frigid night. His rhythm section for this set is on firm ground, with pianist Thomas Clausen, bassist Mads Vinding, and drummer Alex Riel providing refined and perceptive support, never getting in Brookmeyer's way. The group is totally familiar with the classic selection of tunes, from "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" to "Stella by Starlight" to "All Blues," leading to a warm and even lovely ambience throughout.

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