Waltzing With Zoe

We have become an Orchestra now, touring and recording, planning ahead and growing secure in our feelings for one another. When this recording was made, we had almost completed some changes that I felt necessary. The Baritone chair became a woodwind voice, with Contra Bass Clarinet and English horn – Reed 2 is now a Clarinet soloist, and a very good and individual one. The 3rd trombone became a bass Trombone also, enabling Ed Partyka to double more on Tuba, so we can either cause the ground to rumble or, with the trumpets, make your eyes cross. We have the best in Thorsten Beckenstein. The rhythm section you know from "New Works" – now I presume you own a copy already, right? If not, your next task is clear. We will be trying for on CD a year so keep some shelf space handy for us.

The music came out a little differently for me this time. It arrived as "character pieces," with a will of their own and I sometimes felt like a transcriber, following orders. The title work, "Waltzing with Zoë" is named for the 10 year old daughter of Hal Crook, the great trombonist. We established a friendship over the phone that lasted two years before, in January, we finally met. I loved the title for the CD and Anne and Hein agreed, so that’s how it came to pass. Zoë is a great lady. And for Maria Schneider's piece, I snuck up on her – called her and played this song and said "what do you think?" – "Ooh, it's lovely" she said and I thereupon informed that that was HER song. So, it's been passed by the boss. She and I go back to 1983 when she began studying with me and I am proud of her and we are loving friends.

"Child at Play" is for my beautiful Godson, courtesy of Kris Goessens and Amanda Engels. In the work – and in "Zoë" – I took my biggest risks, structurally, and I think at least the leap was worth it. "Fireflies" was originally from a 1999 WDR/Cologne production, featuring the brilliant German trumpet player Till Brönner. Eric does a great job here in a flowing and unabashedly lyric piece. "Sweetie" comes from the same Danish Radio Suite that produced "Boom Boom." It is for my lovely wife and “sweetie” is often my name for her. "American Tragedy" is how I feel about the country in which I dwell. When the highest Court in the land becomes a political tool, where will justice be?

"K.P. '94" was composed for a book written by Fred Sturm, called "Changes Over Time." Holman, Manny Albam and Clare Fischer were also invited in, the idea being to give a new treatment to a standard Jazz work that had lasted throughout the years. I always liked "King Porter Stomp" since the 1930s, when Goodman's band played it – after warning Fred that he could not expect one note of recognizable melody, I "deconstructed" and recomposed the piece. I like the result so we decided to document it. I wanted to show what John Hollenbeck was capable of, so "Seesaw" was conceived as a dialogue between drums and band. What I did NOT anticipate was that during the 6-7 takes we made, he would grow more "inside" the piece until the final would see him get dangerously close to the edge of the cliff. A stunning performance. Seems like he traveled through history.

At this point, I want to thank the Dutch guys who so ably helped us out - Erik, Angelo, Bert and Jan, Adrian for coming in from Cologne and Achim filling in for Jergen Grimm. Radio Netherlands and Dick Kuijs made the physical side of recording possible and Hein van de Geyn was our more helpful A & R, guiding us through the maze. Anne de Jong and Challenge Records have literally been our mentors. Without Anne and Hein, we would be silent and that would be a sad day for music. Thank you all, plus my regular gang, who know me like a book and still keep coming back for more. You mean more to me than words can express.

Bob Brookmeyer
26 February, 2001 – Grantham, NH
Child At PlayListen!
For MariaListen!
Waltzing With ZoeListen!
K.P. '94Listen!
American TragedyListen!


Concuctor & Trombone:
Bob Brookmeyer

Marko Lackner
Oliver Leicht
Matthias Erlewein
Niels van Haften
Edgar Herzog

Thorsten Beckenstein
Torsten Maaß
Sebastian Strempel
Angelo Verploegen

Adrian Mears
Jan Oosting
Bert Pfeiffer

Bass Trombone:
Ed Partyka

Achim Kaufmann, synthesizer
Kris Goessens, piano
Ingmar Heller, bass
John Hollenbeck, drums