If you’re a regular reader of these pages, you may know that Bob Brookmeyer is one of my favourite musicians in any style or instrument. I love the way he seems to disguise his intelligence behind a gutsy, swinging style of playing the rather cumbersome valve trombone. As an arranger he has walked many paths and explored many routes, but he never disappoints. Not me, anyway.
A very good example of the diversity of his talents as an arranger and as a soloist is his arrangement of “Body and Soul” for Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band, and the contrast provided by his own 16-bar solo.
Although Brookmeyer was the driving force behind this band, here he only takes half a chorus. Where others drew arabesques on this ballad’s harmonic maze, Brookmeyer cuts through it with very little melodic variation and a very determined rhythmic delivery, with plenty of swing (as in syncopation in the first eight bars) and funk (on his second eight bars, ending his four-note motives on the downbeat, against a sort of rhumba background).
Since the solo is readily available to listen to, I won’t say more. Just that in an interview, asked about his influences he says that the first major influence, and almost the final one was Count Basie. Listening to this solo (starting in 2:37), I think it’s not difficult to imagine playing that solo on the piano.