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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Three Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 982



1. Lover
2. Little Girl Blue
3. Fare Thee Well Annabelle
4. Sometimes I'm Happy
5. The Duke
6. Indiana
7. Love Walked In
8. St. Louis Blues
9. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
10. Jump For Joy
11. Perdido 

1. Liberian Suite - Dance No. 3
2. The Duke
3. Flamingo
4. C Jam Blues
5. Bru's Blues
6. These Foolish Things
7. The Masquerade Is Over
8. One Moment Worth Years
9. St. Louis Blues

Dave Brubeck - Piano
Paul Desmond - Alto sax
Bob Bates - Bass (tracks I/1-7)
Joe Dodge - Drums (tracks I/1-7)
Joe Benjamin - Bass (tracks I/9-11, II/1-4)
Joe Morello - Drums (tracks I/8-11, II/1-9)
Norman Bates - Bass (tracks I/8, II/5-9)

The three albums reissued here were all recorded live, before three different kinds of audiences. The first seven tracks come from the album Jazz: Red Hot and Cool, recorded in 1954 and 1955 at the Basin Street club in New York. The tracks from Things Ain't What They Used to Be to C Jam Blues were taped at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. And the last five tracks come from Jazz Goes to Junior College, recorded at two different California colleges in May 1957.

Dave Brubeck may be said to have discovered a new audience when he started playing at colleges, where the audiences were young and enthusiastic - and often quite easy to please! Nevertheless, it is clear from these recordings why the Brubeck quartet was popular with audiences. Paul Desmond's alto sax was always fluent and melodic - cool but seldom chilly. It contrasted well with Brubeck's unusual approach to the piano. On Little Girl Blue, for instance, he deliberately slows down, crossing bar-lines while the bassist keeps the original tempo. Brubeck's piano solos can make you raise your eyebrows in disbelief at the way he plays about with tempos and uses unexpected chords whose quirkiness he may have imbibed from his teacher, Darius Milhaud. Despite these oddities, both Brubeck and Desmond play music which can readily be appreciated by anyone with ears to hear. And in Joe Morello they found a drummer who fitted the group perfectly: playing clean lines and always listening, so that his punctuations were always relevant.

The opening Lover is taken at the lilting tempo of a Viennese waltz and swings along nicely. The Newport session was part of Duke Ellington Night at the Jazz Festival, which explains the Ducal numbers played by the quartet, although Brubeck also includes his own dedication to Ellington - The Duke - and Flamingo which was not composed by Ellington but was often played by him. In Things Ain't What They Ussd To Be, the phrasing in Paul Desmond's solo is appropriately reminiscent of Johnny Hodges. C Jam Blues includes a superb drum solo from Joe Morello, and Dave Brubeck adds a coda which transforms the tune into Take the "A" Train.

The "Plus" referred to in the album title is just one track: the first of two versions of St Louis Blues (added to the first CD as track 8), recorded at the first Timex All-Star Jazz Festival in December 1957. The sleeve-note gives a different line-up for this track from the one announced by the compere, but it definitely seems to have Norman Bates on bass and Joe Morello at the drums. It is a shorter performance of the tune than the one on the second CD but interesting nonetheless, with some crowd-pleasing rat-a-tats from Brubeck and Morello. On the second version, Brubeck can be heard humming along with his own piano solo - rather like Keith Jarrett.

With more than 146 minutes of music at budget price, this is another very worthwhile bargain release from the Avid label.


Tony Augarde 

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