Crane Jazz Ensemble Concert Celebrates Music of Bob Brookmeyer


The Crane Jazz Ensemble will present a concert celebrating the music of Bob Brookmeyer, pictured, on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Hosmer Hall at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

The Crane Jazz Ensemble will present a special tribute concert honoring the music of Bob Brookmeyer on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. The celebration of the jazz man best known for arranging works for big bands will be hosted by SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

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.”

This event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

“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.

The Crane Jazz Ensemble is the premier performance group in the jazz studies program at The Crane School of Music, and consists of 18 students on saxophone, trumpet, trombone and rhythm. The ensemble tours regularly, appearing at schools, conferences and jazz festivals, receiving multiple awards for individual and ensemble performance. The ensemble has performed with such guest artists as Marian McPartland, Marvin Stamm, Dave Stahl and the Billy Taylor Trio, and has appeared at the Musicfest USA 1990 National Finals, the New York State School Music Association conference and the Marine Midland, Villanova University and College of Saint Rose Jazz Festivals.

About the artist:

Robert Edward Brookmeyer was born on 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.

To learn more about jazz study at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, visit

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution.