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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DAVE BRUBECK

Three Classic Albums Plus

AVID AMSC 1002

 

 


CD 1
1. Alice in Wonderland
2. Give a Little Whistle
3. Heigh-Ho
4. When You Wish Upon a Star
5. Some Day My Prince Will Come
6. One Song
7. Oh, Susanna
8. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
9. Little Rock Getaway
10. Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair
11. Deep in the Heart of Texas
12. At the Dark Town Strutters' Ball
13. Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
14. Happy Times
15. Darling Nellie Gray
16. Southern Scene

CD 2
1. Introduction
2. Wonderful Copenhagen
3. My One Bad Habit Is Falling in Love
4. Tangerine
5. The Wright Groove
6. Like Someone in Love
7. Watusi Drums
8. Pilgrims` Progress
9. Plain Song
10. Curtain Time
11. Sounds of the Loop
12. Home at Last

From the albums:
Dave Digs Disney CD 1 (tracks 1-6)
Southern Scene CD 1 (tracks 7-16)
The Dave Brubeck Quartet in Europe CD 2 (tracks 1-7)
The Playboy Jazz All-Stars 1957 CD 2 (track8)
Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A. CD 2 (tracks 9-12)

Dave Brubeck - Piano
Paul Desmond - Alto sax
Eugene Wright, Norman Bates - Bass
Joe Morello, Joe Dodge - Drums

 

On November 8, 1954 Dave Brubeck was featured on the cover of Time magazine, thus becoming the first American jazz musician to receive this recognition. At the time he was a distinctive figure at the forefront of a jazz resurgence in the US. Now on the cusp of celebrating his 90th birthday on December 6, he has become an icon and a living jazz legend.

These sides come from the 1956-59 period when the quartet was undergoing a personnel transformation to become its most flourishing iteration, that in addition to Paul Desmond on alto, had Eugene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums.

Not all of Brubeck`s recordings were consistently good or interesting. This is the case with Dave Digs Disney and Southern Scene both of which are concept albums and take in all of CD1. In the case of the former, it was inspired by a family vacation to Disneyland and comprises tunes from several Disney movies including, Alice In Wonderland, Pinocchio, Snow White and Cinderella. While the offerings are enjoyable, the only standout is Alice In Wonderland where Brubeck starts out unaccompanied in 3/4 time and then everyone comes in, led by Desmond in 4/4 time. Later on there is also a very successful counterpoint duet between Brubeck and Desmond.

Southern Scene was a less effective sequel to the quartet's much-admired album, Gone with t 0.he Wind. The tracks on Scene are a mixed bag of quartet, trio and duo offerings which, with a few exceptions, are not very memorable. However of the quartet pieces, When it's Sleepy Time Down South has an interesting blues feel and Little Rock Getaway shows off the group's understanding of a ragtime theme. Joe Morello is at his percussive best on the trio rendition of Deep in the Heart of Texas and the Eugene Wright original tune Happy Times provides him with a platform for his inventive bass work also in a trio setting.

Some jazz groups flourish in live recordings and from its very early days the Brubeck quartet has been in that category, and thus the majority of CD2 is given over to this live format. Recorded in Copenhagen, the quartet is in peak form with Brubeck running off syncopated figures and melodic notes on Wonderful Copenhagen and Desmond is at his inspired best with his plaintive and pure tone on Tangerine. Wishing to acknowledge the contribution that Wright and Morello make to the group, each is given an opportunity to shine. Wright takes up the challenge on his own bluesy composition The Wright Groove, while Morello uses Brubeck's Watusi Drums to develop his musical ideas. As for the balance of the disc, of singular interest is Pilgrim's Progress which was recorded at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 1956, and dedicated to Janet Pilgrim who was Playboy's favourite mid-fifties Playmate. While the four Brubeck compositions derived from Jazz Impressions Of The U.S.A. are more than well played, they lack the immediacy and verve of the previous live performances on the disc.

This is the third compilation offering that Avid has provided of the Brubeck legacy, and while sometimes less is more, in this case more is less.

Pierre Giroux



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