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Dave Brubeck: One Alone

AAJ Staff By

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Dave Brubeck's output continues unabated, thanks in large part during this decade to Telarc Jazz. One of those artists who can't help but be creative through his lifetime, Brubeck is constantly working, tweaking, composing, performing, educating and inspiring.

"One Alone" is a testament to that kind of dogged dedication to art, either by Brubeck himself or by the producers. For, "One Alone" was recorded in solo over the span of three years. One recording session even took place in Wales, the tape being integrated with the two others for a seamless and fairly rare presentation of Brubeck performing by himself.

The word "rare" is used because Brubeck didn't record by himself until his separation of solo albums was one year shy of four decades. His 1956 solo Columbia album "Brubeck Plays Brubeck" was released at the cusp from a cultish following to his worldwide acclamation. And then nothing. Until Telarc released "Just You, Just Me" in 1994.

Even so, it seems that we've heard Brubeck play solo more often than that, such is the force of his musical personality. The opening number, "That Old Feeling", suggests some of Brubeck's changes used in "Georgia On My Mind" from his "Gone With The Wind" album. With substitutions veering from major to minor, and creating a tentative mood of lugubrious pensiveness, he alludes to "Strange Meadowlark" as well as quotes or phrases from other tunes he picked up along the way in his 60-year career.

Speaking of which, Dave Brubeck will be 80 years old in December, 2000, and we'll certainly hear more from him as he tours, records, broadcasts and appears in magazines and newspapers. After decades of ground-breaking work, done without a road map or an agenda except for love of the music, Brubeck prevails triumphantly on "One Alone", his many bands that accessorized his music fading from the same level of prominence as Brubeck's sound but never disappearing from memory.

Even though Brubeck makes the tunes of "One Alone" accessible, his uniqueness remains. "Harbor Lights" wittily and unobtrusively proceeds in 5/4, a time signature that Brubeck's group made famous and thus leading to public appreciation. "Bye Bye Blues" works its way into the listener's consciousness with a slow blues defined by Brubeck's use of walking tenths in the left hand. "Red Sails In The Sunset" becomes a not-quite tango with a brooding off-centeredness, somewhat like some of Brubeck's Mr. Broadway tunes, that never leaves the listener with a sense of a harmonic root.

Performing some of his favorite tunes from the 1930's and 1940's with their deceptively simple melodies, Brubeck not only offers a different perspective on what has been considered the ordinary, but also provides fresh evidence—as if any further evidence were needed—that his style is unmistakable and that his contributions are invaluable.

Personnel: Dave Brubeck

Title: One Alone | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Telarc Records

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