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JAZZ IN THE AQUARIAN AGE

Dave Brubeck: The Inspired Moment of Unity

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[Standing tall with a flowing salt-and-pepper mane, Dave Brubeck had a broad smile and was quick to laugh when I met him in the fall of 1978 at publicist Peter Levinson's New York office for this interview. He was enjoying his tour with the New Brubeck Quartet, the group he formed with his sons. He reminisced about his earliest days in music and his duet recordings with Paul Desmond, and he proudly recalled some compliments he'd gotten over the years from his musical heroes.] “The first challenge of a jazz performer," says pianist Dave Brubeck, “is to ...

REASSESSING

Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out

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Dave Brubeck QuartetTime OutColumbia1959 As the authors of The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (Penguin, 1992-2008) observed, pianist Dave Brubeck's Time Out has become so familiar that “no one actually hears what's going on anymore." The album is one of two masterpieces made in 1959 sharing that fate. The other is trumpeter Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (Columbia). But Brubeck's album has suffered the most. Davis' studied cultivation of his image, along with such spurious qualifications for hipsterdom as his bouts of heroin and cocaine addiction, mean that ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Brubeck: The Quintessence (1948-1959) ; Take Five; QSF Plays Brubeck; 1975: The Duets & Jazz at Oberlin

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Dave Brubeck/Paul DesmondThe Quintessence (1948-1959)Fremeaux & Associes.2009 Sachal Studios OrchestraTake FiveSachal Music2009 Quartet San FranciscoQSF Plays BrubeckViolinJazz2009 Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond1975: The DuetsA&M-Verve2009 Dave Brubeck QuartetJazz at Oberlin Fantasy/OJC-Concord2009 Hail, Brubeck! Most recently David Warren (Dave) Brubeck added Kennedy Center Honors to the acclamation he has received for his contributions as composer, performer and ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Take Two: Variations on Dave Brubeck

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The music of pianist Dave Brubeck has been cherished throughout the world since the mid 1950s. While he's written orchestral, choral and sacred work, his most familiar are jazz tunes like “Strange Meadowlark," “Blue Rondo A La Turk," “Three To Get Ready," “Unsquare Dance" and that mega-hit “Take Five," written by his band mate, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, and forever linked to Brubeck. This repertoire has been played and recorded a zillion times by admiring jazz musicians, and it's strong enough to generate multiple incarnations. Here are two delightful examples.

Quartet San Francisco Quartet San ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Brubeck: Time Out (50th Anniversary Legacy Edition)

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The year 1959 could easily go down as the one of most important years in the history of recorded jazz. In addition to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (Columbia), it saw the release of the Dave Brubeck Quartet's groundbreaking LP Time Out. Columbia Records got the risky inclination to release the album's third track, the Paul Desmond-penned title song, as a single and it went on to become the first jazz single to sell one million copies. Despite the fact that “Take Five" might be one of the top three most-recognized jazz recordings ever, the album's history ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Dave Brubeck: On the Radio: Live 1956-57 & Brubeck

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Dave Brubeck QuartetOn The Radio: Live 1956-57Acrobat2009 Liam Noble TrioBrubeckBasho2009 Dave Brubeck occupies a unique spot in jazz--a living legend that has enjoyed both commercial success and critical acclaim (albeit meandering) throughout his nearly six-decade career. Brubeck, along with longtime sparring partner alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, were the one-two punch behind a quartet that constantly pushed boundaries (offbeat time signatures, simultaneous multiple keys) and played within them (progenitors of West Coast cool jazz) to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Brubeck: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-2007

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One of the paradoxes of jazz is that the individual is highly valued, yet iconoclasts are often undervalued, either by critics or audiences. Pianist Dave Brubeck has had no trouble attracting fans over more than half a century, but critics have been less embracing, often saying he doesn't swing. Brubeck became wildly popular in the '50s, when his quartet with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond pioneered jazz concerts at colleges. Students then were familiar with classical music--music appreciation classes were still taught--so Brubeck's counterpoint and Bach references were familiar (more so than to the average jazz fan), while ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Brubeck: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-2007

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If there is any artist perfectly suited to jazz festivals, it's pianist Dave Brubeck. He gained notoriety through playing for eager tweed jacketed undergrads at college concert halls instead of for barflies at dingy clubs and recorded a few hit songs without losing his jazz cred. It makes sense, then, that Brubeck has performed several times at the Monterey Jazz Fesitval. Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-2007 captures him from several different years there, and with several different bands.The first, of course, captures the famed Brubeck/Desmond collaboration from the fifties and sixties. The disc begins with “Two ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Brubeck: Jazz Goes to College

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It's out again, and affordable. But shame on Sony/Columbia for ignoring this essential recording for twenty years, resulting in prohibitive collectors' prices. This was Brubeck-Desmond's greatest period, before the comparatively sterile, more formulaic studio albums, including Time Out (Columbia, 1959). And shame on those (including this writer) who ever dismissed this recording as too white, too fay, too square, too distant from the “authentic" jazz tradition. The music is squarely in the tradition--soulful, in the moment, unrepeatable.

As far as the 1950s public was concerned, two alto players mattered: Charlie Parker and Paul Desmond; and after ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Freddy Cole and Dave Brubeck Quartets at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia

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Kimmel Center for the Performing ArtsVerizon HallPhiladelphia, PennsylvaniaApril 16, 2008

It was a pleasure to attend and review this double bill at the Kimmel Center with two most honored and respected musicians and their quartets: Freddy Cole and Dave Brubeck. Both groups gave their all, producing some exceptional music.

FREDDY COLE QUARTET

Freddy Cole, the brother of Nat King Cole, is a great vocalist in his own right, having experienced early on the presence of many great musicians, including Nat, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton. Over the years, he ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Jazz Icons Series 2 Set: Wes, Mingus, Coltrane, Dexter, Duke, Brubeck and More.

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Various Artists Jazz Icons Series 2 Box Set Reelin' in the Years 2007

While the advent of the DVD has resulted in the unearthing of a virtual treasure trove of archival live video performances, many available for the first time in any format, the quality can often be hit-and-miss. Not so with the Jazz Icons series of DVDs, the first series hitting the streets in 2006. It's been written that this outstanding series of live performances by legendary jazz artists is to jazz what the renowned Criterion Collection has been ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Jazz Icons Series 2: Vintage Concerts on DVD

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Various Artists Jazz Icons Series 2 Box Set Reelin' in the Years 2007

No matter how often you've listened to John Coltrane playing “My Favorite Things," there's nothing quite like watching him work his magic in a live performance that gives an entire new life to that Richard Rodgers melody. In crisp, glorious black and white, Coltrane's musical exploration is just one of dozens of thrilling moments in the new Jazz Icons series. These Coltrane sets from Germany and Belgium in 1960, 1961 and 1965 are especially valuable as markers in a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Brubeck: Indian Summer

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There are several similarities when listening to Dave Brubeck's Indian Summer and Andras Schiff's survey of Beethoven: The Piano Sonatas (ECM New Series, 2005). Both pianists are well into their respective careers, Brubeck being the elder jazz statesman for sure, but Schiff has managed in his brief fifty-plus years to accumulate an impressive classical repertoire and discography, mostly studied and released in chronological order. Both are at the top of their forms, interpret other works, or create their own (in the case of Brubeck, a masterful composer). Not surprisingly, there is very little cultural distance between the two.Indian ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Brubeck: Indian Summer

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Fifty years after the release of his classic solo session Dave Brubeck Plays and Plays and ... (Original Jazz Classics, 1957), the jazz legend delivers another opportunity for his fans to hear him in an intimate setting. Indian Summer can be seen as a sort of companion piece to Plays and Plays and.... They are, in fact, linked in that Indian Summer's title track was also explored on its predecessor.

These days, it isn't surprising that the 86 year-old Brubeck may not be able to keep up with many of the younger players when it comes ...



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