Thirteen years into their tenure, the Dave Brubeck Quartet was still able to mine the creative vein for new means of expression. Despite the hits and popularity on college campuses, or perhaps because of it, Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, and Joe Morello composed a restless band with a distinctive sound. These eight tracks, all based on a tour of Japan the year before, were, in a sense, Brubeck fulfilling a dictum from his teacher, the French composer Darius Milhaud, who exhorted him to "travel the world and keep your ears open"…
Recorded late at night in his Oakland, California, home, it was Brubeck's first full solo-piano recording and also his first all-original record, and it illustrates his marvelously elegant fusion of classical and cocktail conceptions. Brubeck understands blues and swing, but he uses these elements as tools for effect, not as default settings. Brubeck instead offers a fuller palette of emotions and ideas–playful, sober, stern, happy, pensive, cerebral…
This LP introduced Paul Desmond's beautiful ballad "Audrey" and found the early Dave Brubeck quartet (with pianist Brubeck, altoist Desmond, bassist Bob Bates, and drummer Joe Dodge) making a rare studio recording; up to this point all of their most popular records were club performances. With fresh versions of such songs as "Jeepers Creepers," "Pennies from Heaven," and "A Fine Romance," this music is certainly worth acquiring.
The 1987 edition of the Brubeck Quartet featured pianist Brubeck, his son Chris on electric bass and bass trombone, clarinetist Bill Smith and drummer Randy Jones. In addition to remakes of "Blue Rondo à la Turk," "Strange Meadowlark" and "Swing Bells," the leader contributed six new originals including "I See, Satie" and a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz called "Dizzy's Dream." Bill Smith, who uses electronics with taste on his clarinet during a few songs, has long been a major asset to the later Brubeck Quartets. This is one of their better Concord CDs.
For this entry in Dave Brubeck's series of Time albums, his Quartet with altoist Paul Desmond performs "Elementals" with an orchestra and plays five briefer originals including four that have unusual time signatures; "World's Fair" is in 13/4 time.
The 17 selections on this disc represent the earliest recordings by one of the most important and definitive jazz combos in history. These are interesting because Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond on alto sax had established the basic sound long before bassist Gene Wright and drummer Joe Morello would join them for the 'classic quartet' era. One other thing that is interesting is even though recording technology was relatively crude in the very early 1950s the sound quality on this album is more than acceptable.
Drummer Dan Brubeck, son of the late Dave Brubeck, pays homage to his parents in a most appropriate way. He puts the proper frame around the songbook created by his mother and father over their 70-year performance career. Using the saxophone quartet format his father blazed jazz trails with, Brubeck leads his quartet through 14 Brubeck originals at Vancouver's Cellar recorded in August 2013. Bassist Adam Thomas proves to be a fine vocalist for the special material, never obscuring the pieces with technical attempts to impress. Urbane and amiable, this collection has been a long time coming and now that it is here, we can fully appreciate the art of Dave and Iola Brubeck.