The Brubeck Brothers Quartet: Intuition (2006)
The prospect of reviewing an all-original release can strike apprehensionif not actual fearin a critic's heart. With the growing ease of self-production, it's increasingly likely that such recordings will be monuments to tuneless self-indulgence.
This is one reason why Intuition is such a treat: the compositions are not only fresh, melodic and memorable, but they're rendered with sublime expertise and considerable joy. From guitarist Mike DeMicco's swinging "West of One" through the tipsy second-line groove of "Parade du Funk" and the jubilant "Jump Up, Get Down" and "Change Up," jazz doesn't get any jollier than this.
The music is laced with the intriguingly lopsided meters one would expect from Dave Brubeck's children. Moreover, Chris, who has a blessedly impeccable tone on fretless bass, shows considerable wit in his use of slide and vibrato on both guitar and trombone. Dan's cowbell provides its own sly humor, although his drum chops are as serious as they ever get.
Mike DeMicco supplies fine guitar work and two compositions that blend nicely with Brubeck's seven, while Pete Levin adds his churning B3 to three of them. Then there's the dazzling precocity of pianist Taylor Eigsti: just a young teenager when this was recorded, he's already consistently fluid and creative, and his ballad playing on "Still as Winter" is understated and gorgeous.
To these ears, the standout track is the evocative and mysterious "Sahara Moon," where the dynamics shift and build as smoothly as desert sand. (Note: although the tune is a mix of jazz and funk, it also helps explain why Chris Brubeck is in such demand as a symphonic composer.)
In sum, this recording lives up to the full possibilities of originality: crisply recorded, organically paced and beautifully played, it's a unique and sparkling delight.
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Track Listing: West of One; Sahara Moon; Parade du Funk; Bullwinkle's Revenge; Still as Winter; Open Door; Jump Up, Get Down; Easy for You to Pray; Change Up.
Personnel: Dan Brubeck: drums; Chris Brubeck: fretless bass, bass trombone; Mike DeMicco: guitar; Taylor Eigsti: piano; Pete Levin: organ.