The Dave Brubeck Quartet of the early 1960s created the five albums reissued here with a cool head and a steady hand. The foursome gave its audience something to think about, something to enjoy, and something to remember.
Along with the Modern Jazz Quartet, Brubeck's group brought a special quality to the jazz forum that contained a variety of echoes from the classical music arena. The clarity of Paul Desmond’s dry alto, the walking foundation of Senator Gene Wright’s bass, the feisty manner of Joe Morello’s forceful course, and the calm leadership from Brubeck’s piano gave jazz a lift.
These five reissued albums, packed in a 5-CD box, represent precious memories, as well as a major portion of jazz’s history. “Take Five,” “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” “Unsquare Dance,” and “It’s a Raggy Waltz” have become familiar household names. The combined total of these “time” themed volumes, however, also includes less familiar items of equal value.
Brubeck explores the rhythms and culture of distant lands, and their influence on jazz, with “Far More Drums,” “Maori Blues,” “Iberia,” “Castilian Blues” and “Castilian Drums.” He explores the roots of American music through “Far More Blue,” “Bru’s Boogie Woogie,” “He Done Her Wrong,” “Shim Wha” and “Cable Car.”
And Brubeck explores the European classical music connection through “Charles Matthew Hallelujah,” “Countdown,” “Dance Duet,” and “Why Phillis Waltz.”
Meter stands out as an interesting theme for all five albums. Desmond’s “Take Five” wasn’t the only piece in 5/4 time that the Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded. There are quite a few others here. And the meters evolve beyond that. Besides the usual 4/4 and 6/8, Brubeck has emphasized the jazz waltz in 3/4 time. Always a favorite, the comfortable rhythm rings familiar every time. Pushing the envelope even further, the quartet evolves from 5/4 time into 7/4 and 11/4 time during the course of this 1960s program with ease. Alternating meters and juxtaposed meters add a thrill; “Time In” fuses a three over two pattern to entice even the most inattentive ear.
For All Time includes several previously unissued selections. ”Slow and Easy” drives moderately in a 4/4 meter as a blues-based piece containing cool emotion. Like his tribute to Charlie Parker, “Fast Life,” Brubeck honors a jazz forefather with “Fatha,” which brings out all the swagger and full-of-life essence of the music of Earl Hines. There are three emotional, blues-based pieces without Desmond. “Rude Old Man,” a loping feature for bassist Wright, combines Brubeck’s love of the American Old West with his respect for the blues. “Watusi Drums” features Morello’s locomotive motion in support of a familiar theme, and “Who Said That?” places the trio in a slow blues setting with plenty of room for collective and carefree expression.