Clark Terry/Bob Brookmeyer Quintet
Complete Studio Recordings
[Lonehill Jazz LHJ10199]
Bob Brookmeyer was involved in several important partnerships in the 1950s/60s. He worked frequently with Gerry Mulligan in the Quartet, the Sextet and the Concert Band. He worked and recorded with saxophonists Stan Getz, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and with multi-instrumentalist and arranger Jimmy Giuffre. Yet many critics feel that one his most lively and exciting partnerships was with Clark Terry from 1961-5 at the Half Note in New York.
The double CD which I recommend brings together all their studio recordings. They receive excellent support from pianist Roger Kellaway, Bill Crow on bass and drummer Dave Bailey. On the final session Hank Jones is an inspired replacement for Kellaway. The selection of tunes is full of lively contrasts and there are excellent routines – certainly the work of Bob, who was really the group’s leader. Kellaway makes a significant contribution with the variety of his piano parts. But the fundamental quality of the group is provided by the contrasting but complimentary styles of Clark and Bob. Often on flugelhorn as well as trumpet, Clark builds his solos from simple beginnings to increasing excitement, where his staggering technical facility is used with superb taste. Bob, by the 60s, had added to the fluent lyricism of his work with Mulligan, and the great saxophonists, a gruff edge which he employs sparingly to great effect.
Every track deserves comment, but I will limit myself to the final Bye Bye Blackbird. A fine opening leads to Clark, who builds a beautifully conceived solo. Bob follows with some flowing lyricism and a few gruff touches. Then Hank Jones almost outshines them with one of his very best contributions. The final chorus spices things up a little before mellowing in the middle eight and then reminding us what a lovely tune this is. The whole collection is jazz of the highest class.
[My copy is the reissue by Lonehill Jazz in 2005. There is at least one other reissue but beware – some dealers are asking a silly price. If you are tempted to buy I would suggest a look at Ebay where I spotted one very cheap copy. Or these days you may wish to stream!]