Bob Brookmeyer played the trombone — not just any trombone, but the valve trombone. The instrument familiar to so many has the slide used to alter pitch when played, but the valve version of the instrument has valves like trumpets and other brass instruments. Some of these also can be hybrids, with both a slide and valves.
Brookmeyer was a dedicated composer as well as bandleader. His sound and style garnered him fans throughout the jazz world. It was described as a stealthy swing. Charming and elegant, the sound is deceivingly understated but brilliantly evident. For Brookmeyer, a midwesterner by birth, this all seems fitting in a midwestern sensibility of standing back and watching how others get into stuff, learning and absorbing, but with a little bit of a reserved sense of wit watching the rest find their ways.
He studied and applied some harmonic and melodic techniques of the 20th-century classical art composers, applying the elements in his improvisation adventures and compositions and arrangements. He was a strong piano player and made a duet album with Bill Evans in the ’50s. Brookmeyer taught at the university level, guiding and sharing experience in composition and large ensemble arranging. His inspiring artistry was experienced in Canada, where he was a visiting professor at Brandon University. His was a nuanced and sophisticated swing grounded by a keen appreciation of the culture of the music.