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    Tillotson, Brooks

    French horn player who blew through the ‘70s with an astonishing session career, genre-hopping effortlessly between jazz, pop, and R&B. 


    He opened the decade by appearing on Carmen McRae’s Just a Little Lovin and Edgar Winter’s freshman offering, Entrance, and went on to record with an eclectic array of artists that includes George Benson, Billy Cobham, Deodato, Maynard Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie, Chaka Khan, Michel Legrand, Esther Phillips, Ray Starling, Gabor Szabo, and Grover Washington, Jr. 


    Some of the other albums on which he appeared in the ‘70s are Luiz Bonfa’s Manhattan Strut, David Clayton-Thomas’s eponymous debut, Bill Evans’ Symbiosis, Bob James’ Heads, Eddie Kendrick’s Vintage ’78, Kleer’s Winners, Don McLean’s Homeless Brother, Charles Mingus’s Let My Children Hear Music, Carly Simon’s Boys in Trees, Frank Sinatra’s Trilogy, and Randy Weston’s Blue Moses.  Given his track record, it is unsurprising that he also shows up on The Definitive 70s. 


    The ‘80s saw his session work decline, but he was also busy as a classical musician.  On 14th January 1986, he performed Gary William Friedman’s “Concertino for French Horn and Small Ensemble” at The Vineyard Theater in New York.  In 1988, he found time to appear on Brian Slawson’s Distant Drums. 


    As the CD era began, more of his work began to appear in digitalized form:  Tony Bennett’s Who Can I Turn To, Stanley Turrentine’s On a Misty Night, Hank Crawford’s Wildflower, Barbara Cook’s It’s Better with a Band, The Very Best of Ashford & Simpson, and Claus Ogerman:  A Man and his Music all bear Brooks’ trademark French horn stylings.  He also recorded on a handful of movie soundtracks:  The Baker’s Wife, Koyaanisqatsi, Mo’ Better Blues, and The Wiz. 


    In 1995, he officially retired, although he continues to do some fill-in work for orchestras in New York state.  On 18th November 2007, he was the featured performer with the Glen Falls Symphony Orchestra, interpreting none other than Mozart’s “Concerto No. 4 for French Horn”, Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3”, and modern works by Grainger and Dello Joio. 


    Are you a budding French horn player?  You can test your chops with Brooks on the unique CD/sheet music combo Music For Brass Ensemble, published by Music Minus One.  The CD contains two versions of the same piece of music, one with French horn, and one without, but be forewarned:  Brooks Tillotson is a tough act to follow.


    Frank Sinatra recordings

    That's What God Looks Like To Me (Stan Irvin/Lan O'Kun)

    Reprise RPS 49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)


    Theme from "New York, New York" (Fred Ebb/John Kander)

    Reprise RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)



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