Formed out of a group of younger European musicians with whom trombonist/composer Brookmeyer had played over three summers at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the 18-piece New Art Orchestra is in commendable shape for its debut recording. The major work is Brookmeyer's "Celebration Suite," which consists of the jumpy "Jig," "Slow Dance," the almost funereal "Remembering" and the bright, sometimes tumultuous "Two And." Featured throughout is the baritone playing of guest star Scott Robinson, a multi-instrumentalist who is also known for his mastery of the Adrian Rollini sound and style on bass sax. Playing the role initially created for Gerry Mulligan, Robinson is instantly commanding in his strong, Harry Carney-rooted sound and unforced swing, which owes as much to more modern stylists as it does to Carney and Mulligan. Also heard in solo on this provocative work is pianist Kris Goessens.
The second half of the program is composed of the elegiac "Idyll"; the Monk-like "Duets," with its angular brass and sax section punctuations offsetting John Hollenbeck's solo drums and Paul Heller's tenor; "Cameo," a medium-slow showcase for Brookmeyer's still-fluent trombone; and "Boom Boom," a bright Brookmeyer feature, which is also noted for Ralf Hesse's trumpet and the massive block chord sound of the 15-man horn sections.