Bob Brookmeyer celebrated his 80th birthday on December. If you don't know Brookmeyer's music (shame on you), you may have heard works by composers who the Kansas City, Missouri, has taught and mentored, people such as Jim McNeely, Maria Schneider, Ayn Inserto, Dave Rivello, John Hollenbeck, and Darcy James Argue. Click on Argue's name and you can read his loving tribute to the man and hear 5 cogent examples of his work.
Brookmeyer is opinionated (as you will hear in the video excerpt below) but he backs up his words with the music he has created over the past 6 decades. He created brilliant melodies and charts for the Gerry Mulligan Concert Big Band, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra which became the Mel Lewis Orchestra, and, after the drummer's death, the Vanguard Orchestra. Amazingly, he has no "American" band but most of the music he has produced over the past 15 years has come from his association with the NewArt Orchestra, an 18-piece big band based in Holland.
My suggestion is to go to www.bobbrookmeyer.com and check out what the man has done. It's been a career filled with ups and downs but the music has been consistently strong. And, believe me, he's not done yet.