Dave Brubeck and Marian McPartland – piano
Many of my fellow musicians don’t like this
series of records and I don’t understand why. I have always
been fascinated by the conversation of musicians, I think it’s
to do with the nature of the work we do. Every time we go out
to play, we are exhibiting ourselves and taking risks in a very
public way, this gives us a different outlook on the world than
Marion is a fine pianist herself and she so
obviously commands the respect of the world’s greatest, when
she talks with them. Dave Brubeck has to be one of these, the
classic Dave Brubeck quartet with Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright
and Joe Morello changed the course of jazz and I must confess
to finding their recordings even more fascinating now than when
I first heard them. Since those times many people have played
unusual time signatures, but few sound convincing and almost
none of them swing.
One of the tunes played here is Brubeck’s ‘The
Duke’, often featured by other great pianists and a favourite
composition of Oscar Peterson. It is not a tune for the enthusiastic
It is fascinating to hear Dave talk about people
like Paul Desmond, who was a unique musician and a very interesting
person. ‘In Your Own Sweet Way’, another of Brubeck’s compositions,
was frequently played by Miles Davis who adapted the melody,
so that there now exists two versions of the tune. Marian and
Dave duet on it here. The Brubeck version of course!
Dave Brubeck was prepared to play his programme
a different way every time, few of the jazz ‘greats’ do this,
mostly they find a definitive version and stick to it. This
accounts for the success of many ‘jam’ sessions; nobody knows
what is going to happen! Both pianists feel that the live session
often brings a more relaxed performance than the recording studio.
‘One Moment in Years’ is Brubeck’s acknowledgement
of the contribution of Fats Waller to jazz and the duet with
Marian is a delight.
Louis Armstrong recorded Summer Song and Marian
McPartland plays it on the record as a solo feature.
Brubeck admits to a liking for the piano playing
of Marian McPartland, for me it is easy to hear why that is,
she is a very inventive player. They both take their artistic
lives in their hands when they improvise a Free Piece, where
they just see where the music leads them, it works better than
I would have expected.
Polytonal Blues is a piece in two different
keys at the same time which accounts for it’s quirky feel and
is a typical piece of Dave Brubeck invention. Take Five which
was written by Paul Desmond, takes us out with great style and
it just amazing to think that twenty eight minutes of conversation
and thirty six minutes of music have passed so quickly. May
there be many more records released in this series.