Bob Brookmeyer – A Closeup Look At His Chops

I’m going to play Guess the Embouchure Type again.  Today it’s the great valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer.  Here’s a video of him playing with guitarist John Scofield.

There are a couple of moments in the video (1:31-1:41 and 2:52-3:03) where the camera focused on his embouchure.  Based on such a close look, I can take an educated guess about which embouchure type Brookmeyer has.

He places the mouthpiece with more upper lip, which makes him a downstream player.  His embouchure motion is a little harder to spot, simply because he doesn’t change registers very much in those two closeup shots.  I saw some moments that look like he’s pulling down to ascend, but generally it looks like he pushes up to ascend and pulls down to descend.  My guess is he’s a Very High Placement embouchure type.

Brookmeyer is an amazing musician, one of my favorites.  He’s not just known for his trombone playing, he’s also a great pianist and one of the greatest jazz composer/arrangers of all time.  Check this video out to hear what he has to say about his own composition, Island.

What do you think?  Can you find another video of Brookmeyer that has a good look at his chops?  Videos of another player’s chops you’re curious about?

Paul T.

This one is hard to tell. It’s funny: it looks like his horn angle is too how for where his jaw sits. I wonder if he always plays like that or if, perhaps, he’s just trying to point his bell at a microphone set at an awkward height or some similar circumstance.

While Brookmeyer is one of the finest jazz musicians out there–performer, improviser, composer, arranger–he’s never spoken of as a great brass player. Are his technical “chops” perhaps not working as well as they should? I don’t know–I don’t know enough about him as a player to say, but I’ve never heard him play anything too demanding as far as brass playing goes. And I know from personal experience that a player can get away with unusual embouchure formations and technique when playing only in a limited range (both in terms of register and dynamics).

If I had to guess, I would guess same as you (from this video): Very High Placement.

(If you want other players to “guess” about, I’d like to hear your thoughts on Elliot Mason and Wycliffe Gordon…)


Yeah, seems very high placement, with the movements you describe for register. But it also seems Bob anchors on the top lip, to me a weaker arrangement, since the top lip seems less capable of bearing pressure. I wonder the significance of this. It’s interesting the bottom lip seems to overlap the top until they both disappear under the rim.

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