POTSDAM --The SUNY Potsdam Crane Jazz Ensemble will present a special tribute concert to honor the music of Bob Brookmeyer Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
The Crane Jazz Ensemble will present a selection of original works written or arranged by Brookmeyer for groups such as the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra, Thad Jones and the Mel Lewis Orchestra and the New Art Orchestra. The pieces include a movement from "Spirit Music," as well as "ABC Blues," "Willow Weep for Me," "Hello and Goodbye," "Make Me Smile," "Nevermore," "Manoir de mes Rêves" and "Boom Boom."
"Bob was a complex man, a characteristic that was reflected in his craft. His music covered a lot of ground... alluring at times, cathartic at others; sometimes displaying genuine humor, rural charm and wit, yet at other times conveying a visceral quality that would pin you back in your seat," said Zvacek.
Robert Edward Brookmeyer was born Dec. 19, 1929, in Kansas City, Mo. He began playing music professionally as a teenager and attended the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, but left before graduating. Brookmeyer's primary instrument was an unusual one: the valve trombone. His big, blurry sound and graceful style were an integral part of small groups led by the saxophonists Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan and the clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre in the 1950s, as well as a popular quintet he co-led with the trumpeter Clark Terry in the 1960s. He was also an occasional pianist, good enough to have held his own on a two-piano album with a master of that instrument, Bill Evans, in 1959. He was on the house band for the Merv Griffin Show, and wrote for Ray Charles and others.
But he was probably best known for his writing, especially his arrangements for big bands, which at their best captured the spirit of past masters like Duke Ellington and Count Basie, while remaining thoroughly contemporary. His writing in the 1960s for Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra helped invigorate the big band genre at a time when many critics considered it moribund.
In 1979, Thad Jones left the big band he and the drummer Mel Lewis led, and Brookmeyer subsequently returned as musical director. He had been a charter member of the band when it began its long-running weekly residence at the Village Vanguard in 1966. He also began composing avant-garde classical music.
Brookmeyer was a highly respected teacher at the New England Conservatory of Music and elsewhere, and founded a music school in the Netherlands, running it for several years, and was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2006. He died in December 2011.