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London Flat, London Sharp, Private Brubeck Remembers and Jazz at the College of the Pacific

Brian P. Lonergan By

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Dave Brubeck Quartet
London Flat, London Sharp
Telarc
2005

There are not many jazz pianists who have actively gigged and recorded for 60 years. Dave Brubeck's clean living has allowed him to continue producing, at nearly 85 years old, such excellent albums as London Flat, London Sharp.

One of Brubeck's great strengths is harmonic inventiveness, which shows up in his crunchy chord voicings and polytonal improvisations. But he also has a knack for matching memorable melodies with irresistible chord progressions (think "In Your Own Sweet Way ), evident on several tunes on London Flat.

About half the tracks on the album have appeared on earlier Brubeck recordings with different groups and his new compositions are in a traditional vein. But the music created by Brubeck, with Bobby Militello (alto sax and flute), Michael Moore (bass) and Randy Jones (drums), is so appealing and energetic that the album is unquestionably a welcome addition to Brubeck's discography.

The pianist shows he can still play lively boogie and blues on "Mr. Fats , while "Cassandra crackles and the piano and sax solos on "Forty Days gradually crescendo to emotional climaxes.


Dave Brubeck
Private Brubeck Remembers
Telarc
2004

"Ballad of the Rhine is refashioned from the original version recorded half a century ago as "We Crossed the Rhine . It appears on both London Flat and Private Brubeck Remembers, a solo piano album that Brubeck calls in its liner notes "an autobiography of my war years (he was a bandleader and saw combat in Germany in World War II).

Much of this album is, accordingly, nostalgic and even melancholic at times, such as Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When . But Brubeck also has fun with some tunes, playing upbeat stride on "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else But Me) . Private Brubeck doesn't have the same energy generated by the quartet on London Flat, though it's a good record of the pianist's favored textures and harmonies.


Dave Brubeck Quartet
Jazz at the College of the Pacific
Fantasy-OJC
1953/2002

Shortly before he shipped out to Europe for the war, Brubeck met alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, whose ethereal and lyrical playing would figure prominently in the Brubeck quartet's popularity through the '50s and '60s. A 1953 concert in Stockton, California, with the two backed by Ron Crotty on bass and Joe Dodge on drums, yielded the outstanding music captured on Jazz at the College of the Pacific. "All the Things You Are and "I'll Never Smile Again showcase Brubeck and Desmond's uncanny method of imitative, contrapuntal soloing, while Brubeck, often criticized for heavy-handed playing, offers nimble right-hand lines as well as dense chordal improvisations. He has a sense of humor too; at the end of trading fours with drummer Dodge on "Lullaby in Rhythm , the pianist throws in a quote of Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm . A gorgeous Desmond solo on "For All We Know closes out the set.

London Flat, London Sharp

Tracks: 1. London Flat, London Sharp 2. To Sit and Dream 3. The Time of Our Madness 4. Unisphere 5. Steps to Peace 6. Forty Days 7. Cassandra 8. Yes, We All Have Our Cross to Bear 9. Mr. Fats 10. Ballad of the Rhine

Personnel: Dave Brubeck, piano; Bobby Militello, alto sax and flute; Michael Moore, bass; Randy Jones, drums

Private Brubeck Remembers

Tracks: 1. For All We Know 2. Something To Remember Me By 3. Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree 4. Don't Worry 'bout Me 5. For You 6. Where or When 7. Lili Marlene 8. It's a Sin To Tell a Lie 9. When I Grow Too Old To Dream 10. We Crossed the Rhine 11. Please Be Kind 12. Weep No More 13. The Last Time I Saw Paris 14. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To

Personnel: Dave Brubeck, piano

Jazz at the College of the Pacific

Tracks: 1. All the Things You Are 2. Laura 3. Lullaby In Rhythm 4. I'll Never Smile Again 5. I Remember You 6. For All We Know

Personnel: Dave Brubeck, piano; Paul Desmond, alto sax; Ron Crotty, bass; Joe Dodge, drums


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