The standard I apply to critique a recording is twofold: 1) determine what the artist(s) set out to accomplish with the recording, 2) decide whether they were successful. Employing the test: yes, this is a Dave Brubeck tribute, and no, for most artists involved, they didn’t capture the spirit of Brubeck. But, interestingly I think the record is a success. Executive producer John Zorn has participated in numerous tribute records. The best of them being The Big Gundown (Ennio Morricone, 1984), Voodoo: The Music Of Sonny Clark (1985), Spy Vs. Spy: The Music Of Ornette Coleman (1988), More News For Lulu (Sonny Redd, Sonny Clark, Hank Mobley 1989), Spinning Song: Duck Baker Plays The Music Of Herbie Nichols (1996). Each, in its own way captured the essence of the artists’ musical concepts.
Brubeck’s button-down jazz just doesn’t work in the Sex Mob’s scheme of slide trumpet and screeching saxophone. Nor does his “Far More Blues” fair well as a deconstructive piano piece by Uri Caine nor does the Eastern European take on “In Your Own Sweet Way” remind us of the original composition. Before mailing letter bombs to this infidel, I must say I am a fan of the above artists and enjoyed the music. It just is impossible to make a Brubeck connection.
The tracks that do connect were those by Joey Baron, Bill Frisell, Anthony Coleman, Erik Friedlander, and Medeski, Martin & Wood. Perhaps it is the reverence of their approach to Brubeck’s music that is so appealing. Coleman, at times a wild man at the keyboards, settles into an almost romantic version of “The Duke.” And drummer Joey Baron, accompanied only by Tony Scherr’s bass, gives the best performance of the disc by faithfully covering “Three To Get Ready.” Does the majority of the record pay tribute to the great one? No. Is the music inherently satisfying in itself? Yes.
Track List:(1)Blue Shadows In The Street; (2)Far More Blues; (3)In Your Own Sweet Way; (4)Summer Song; (5)Blue Rondo A La Turk; (6)Tokyo Traffic; (7)The Duke; (8)Calcutta Blues; (9)Sixth Senth; (10)Winter Ballad; (11)Jumpin; (12)Nomad; (13)Three To Get Ready; (14)Golden Horn.