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 Summer follows 2000's One Alone and 1994's Just You, Just Me in Brubeck's series of solo recordings for Telarc. There was a time when the word "rare would have been used for a solo Brubeck album. Beginning with his solo piano debut, Brubeck Plays Brubeck (Columbia, 1956), released in the middle of his development, Brubeck achieved a Grateful Dead-like cult status between Jazz at Oberlin (Fantasy, 1953) and Time Out (Columbia, 1959).
Indian Summer is no exception. This is a quietly dignified recording where Brubeck plays plaintively, at fairly slow tempi, and concentrates on ballads and light show tunes. Brubeck plays most everything piano, a sotto voce recital of old and not so old songs played in a traditional style. He proves that his stride bona fides on a leisurely paced "Sweet Lorraine and a surprisingly blues-laden "Georgia On My Mind. The original "Autumn In Our Town is a moody minor key tone piece that serves as the center to a collection that could be defined as Brubeck's Kinderszenen.
If one crosses Vladimir Horowitz's performance of Schumann's "Träumerei from Horowitz in Moscow (Deutsche Grammophon, 1986) and the corpus of Thelonious Monk on Monk Alone: The Complete Solo Studio Recordings of Thelonious Monk 1962-1968 (Sony, 1998), then the listener might begin to grasp the grace of these Brubeck timelessly aphorous musings. Dave Brubeck will not be here forever, so every new note he plays is important and for fans, Indian Summer should not be missed.
Track Listing: You'll Never Know; I'm Alone; Autumn In Our Town; So Lonely; I'm Afraid the Masquerade Is Over; I Don't Stand a Ghost Of a Chance With You; Pacific Hail; September Song; Summer Song; Thank You; Georgia On My Mind; Spring Is Here; Sweet Lorraine; Memories Of You; This Love Of Mine; Indian Summer.
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