The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Over Time: Music of Bob Brookmeyer (Planet Arts)
This is the album Bob Brookmeyer was preparing for the Vanguard orchestra before he died at the end of 2011. As a composer and arranger, Brookmeyer was a creative force in the Vanguard’s predecessor, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and its forerunner, the big band co-led by Lewis and Thad Jones. With Jones-Lewis, he was also a principal soloist, on valve trombone. Brookmeyer’s rich history with all of the band’s iterations made him intimately familiar with the styles, capabilities and peculiarities of its members. The album demonstrates not only his understanding of the organization and its players, but also their nonpareil ability to interpret every subtlety, profundity and humorous turn of his writing. Among the superb soloists for whom he made new pieces are Rich Perry, Scott Wendholt, Ralph Lalama, Gary Smulyan and Dick Oatts. Oatts’ alto saxophone solo in Brookmeyer’s brilliant arrangement of “Skylark” is a highlight.