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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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The Essential Collection

Avid AVC 900





1. Audrey
2. Jeepers Creepers
3. A Fine Romance
4. Stompin' For Mili
5. Brother Can You Spare a Dime?
6. Keepin’ Out Of Mischief Now
7. Pennies From Heaven
8. Why Do I Love You?
9. When I Was Young
10. In Your Own Sweet Way
11. One Moment Worth Years
12. The Duke
13. Two-Part Contention
14. Swing Bells
15. Walkin’ Line
16. The Waltz
17. Weep No More


1. In Your Own Sweet Way
2. Two-Part Contention
3. Take The “A” Train
4. I’m In a Dancing Mood
5. Balcony Rock
6. Out Of Nowhere
7. Le Souk
8. Take The “A” Train
9. The Song Is You
10. Don’t Worry ‘bout Me

11. I Want To Be Happy
Dave Brubeck - Piano
Paul Desmond - Alto sax
Bob Bates - Bass (on CD1)
Norman Bates - Bass (on CD2)
Joe Dodge - Drums

There was a time when some critics scoffed at Dave Brubeck, unhappy with his thumping piano style, his experiments with different time signatures, his classical influences and even his popular appeal. Now that he is over the age of 80, he is well established as an elder statesman of jazz and the scoffing seems to have ceased. This is one case where ordinary fans knew better than the critics. Brubeck found ready audiences when he took jazz into American colleges, perhaps because his music was accessible. However much Brubeck liked toying with influences he had learned from the likes of Darius Milhaud, listeners enjoyed the catchy rhythms and the interplay between Brubeck and his long-time colleague Paul Desmond.

These recordings from the mid-1950s illustrate the appeal of the Brubeck Quartet - or, at least, the version of it which preceded the more technically adept later line-up which included Joe Morello. The tracks here use drummer Joe Dodge, who was no great technician and was given to thrashing a Chinese cymbal remorselessly and dropping loud "bombs" (i.e. bass-drum beats) which appealed mightily to campus audiences.

The first CD consists of studio recordings, while the second contains live performances which tend to be more exciting because the players let themselves go and respond to the audiences' enthusiasm. Listen, for example, to Dave's long piano solo on Balcony Rock, which gradually develops patterns and structures which most listeners can appreciate.

Credit must also be given to Paul Desmond, whose cool saxophone sound was an integral part of the quartet, contrasting neatly with Brubeck's more extrovert style. Desmond deliberately avoided imitating Charlie Parker, as most other saxists had done at the time, and developed his own economical, vibratoless style. Superficially it may have seemed emotionless, even cold, but it was capable of conveying deep emotion. And he often played in counterpoint with Brubeck, the two men's lines interweaving pleasurably as in Two-Part Contention on the second CD. This track also gives the lie to those who said that Brubeck couldn't swing.

Some "purists" may still sneer but I have enjoyed the Brubeck Quartet ever since I used to play a well-worn 78 rpm record of theirs every morning before I went to school. This bargain-priced compilation reminds me why I like them, and why you probably will too.

Tony Augarde


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