Prior to his late 50's stints with Gerry Mulligan and the Jimmy Guiffre 3, valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer had been a key member of Stan Getzs 1953 lineup, so this little known 1961 session marked a reunion of sorts.
By this point in his career Getz's tenor playing was displaying less of an obvious debt to Lester Young, and his tone had developed the luxurious breathiness that would mark his most famous work. As if in a direct riposte to the emergent avant garde scene (which he distrusted intensely), Getz seemed to be looking back to the luscious, quivering vibrato of Ben Webster on this sets two ballads, though his solos retain Youngs devotion to unbroken melodic line. Theres an edge that comes through on occasion, as on the end of "Thump Thump Thump"; while trading fours with drummer Roy Haynes, Getz squeezes out an extraordinary high register phrase followed by bluesy slurs which seem at odds with his usual studied cool.
Brookmeyers tenure with Giuffre and guitarist Jim Hall had quietly revolutionised jazz, though there were (at the time) few adherents to their highly improvised chamber music. On this date his highly mobile solos are peppered with the kind of vocal effects that were to become the common currency of new thing players like Grachan Moncur and Roswell Rudd. A nod of the head to the brash novelties of New Orleans brass players perhaps, but Brookmeyer's not interested in novelties or entirely new vocabularies. He's a craftsman, not a revolutionary, and throughout his carefully wrought improvisations are testament to that.
Certainly his rapport with the tenor player is a joy; the two handle the poised intricacies of the two uptempo Brookmeyer tunes ("Minuet" and "Thump Thump Thump" ) as one voice, and elsewhere fashion gracefully sublime counterpoint passages. The valve trombone (not really a popular instrument) has a darker, less brash tone than the common or garden variety; Brookmeyers precision and timbral range shines on his gorgeous "Who Could Care" (maybe an ironic companion to Jerome Kern's "I Should Care").
The rhythm section were one of Getz's usual units; Haynes is as intelligent and dynamic as usual, while pianist Steve Kuhn (best known for his ECM dates) is restrained, supportive and precise, as befits Brookmeyers arrangements. Credit is due to Verve for putting this one out (and doing a fine job of the packaging too); lovers of Getz should snap it up right away, while anyone interested in well crafted jazz will find plenty to keep them happy.