Dave Brubeck: One Alone (2002)
It seems these days older players go to Cleveland to conclude their careers. Bad news if you’re a baseball fan, but great tidings for jazz fans, because Telarc, a leader in sound engineering is based there. As New York labels seem to be searching for younger and prettier musicians, Telarc has documented the recent work of jazz’s elder statesmen like Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson, and Bobby Short. They also have made some of the last few recordings of jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Stephane Grappelli, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Pass, and Joe Williams.
If you’re Dave Brubeck, one of music’s best selling artists, you must welcome the relaxed attitude of the label. He has been through the media sausage grinder several times throughout his career, making the cover of Time magazine years before recording Time Out an album contemporary with Mile Davis’ Kind Of Blue (1960). He has soared to popular success, met the harsh criticism of his peers, but maintained his march to the odd time signatures that have made him infamous.
This solo piano album follows the 1994 Just You, Just Me one of only a few solo outings he has recorded in his nearly sixty-year musical career. One Alone finds Brubeck in an introspective mood. Gone are the 7/4 and 9/8 time signatures. He’s back to his roots in orchestrated stride-to-swing piano. The tunes chosen were known originally for their vocal component, like Rudy Vallee singing “Harbor Lights” or Bing Crosby’s “Red Sails In The Sunset.” Brubeck sings them with his fingers. Of course, younger audiences may not know the lyrics to “You’ve Got Me Crying,” but can empathize with Brubeck’s take on “Over The Rainbow.” Like Art Pepper’s rendition of the Harold Alden classic, Brubeck emphasizes the melancholy through his mostly tranquil, yet emotional approach. Likewise Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me” gets the royal treatment. Brubeck lightly improvises over the theme, sustaining the romance of the piece.
Throughout his career, Brubeck has been many things to many generations of jazz listeners. Here he sounds like he is playing for just one set of ears. Like John Lewis’ Evolution recording last year, Brubeck conjures his favorite songs. They work best for those who remember, as he did, when they were popular hits.
Track List:That Old Feeling; I’ll Never Smile Again; One Alone; You’ve Got Me Crying Again; Someone To Watch Over Me; Just Squeeze Me; Harbor Lights; Things Ain’t What They Used To Be; Summer Song; Red Sails In The Sunset; Weep No More; Bye Bye Blues; Over The Rainbow.
Personnel: Dave Brubeck