Pianist and composer Dave Brubeck's centenary falls in December 2020 and two albums are being released to coincide. One is the outstanding Time OutTakes (Brubeck Editions), consisting of out-takes from the sessions which produced Time Out (Columbia, 1959). The album includes vibrant alternative readings of "Blue Rondo A La Turk," "Kathy's Waltz" and "Time Out" itself among previously unheard versions of the first five tracks from the 1959 album. Unlike so many previously unheard (for good reason) collections of out-takes, Time OutTakes is killer.
The second commemorative disc is Lullabies, a solo set which Brubeck recorded in 2010 with his grandchildren in mind. The material comprises five Brubeck originals and nine coversincluding Johannes Brahms' "Wiegenlied" (aka "Brahms Lullaby"), Clarence Muse's "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," Harold Arlen's "Over The Rainbow," Frederic Weatherly's "Danny Boy," Jules Shear's "All Through The Night" and George Gershwin's "Summertime." Speaking about the project, Brubeck said, "Some are original pieces that I thought would appeal to babies as well as an older generation. I hope the littlest ones will respond to this music and that parents and grandparents will enjoy it as well."
Simple and soothing in conception and performance, Lullabies, Brubeck's last known studio recording, is light years away from the blazing, double-fisted pyrotechnics of Time Out (whose greatness has been rendered near invisible by familiarity, in the same way that Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue, also released by Columbia in 1959 is often taken for granted). But Lullabies reminds us of another side of Brubeck's music, and it is good to have it around.
Brahms Lullaby; When It's Sleepy Time Down South; Over The Rainbow; Danny Boy; Going To Sleep; There's No Place Like Home; Lullaby For Iola; Koto Song; All Through The Night; Softly Wlliam Softly; A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes; Briar Bush; Sleep; Summertime; Brahms Lullaby (Reprise).
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Chris May is a senior editor of All About Jazz and editor of the style magazine Jocks & Nerds; he was previously the editor of Black Music & Jazz Review magazine; he is Afrobeat consultant for Partisan Records and Google Arts & Culture.