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Private Brubeck Remembers

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Album Review

In early 2004, Dave Brubeck reminisced about his days as a soldier during World War II for this two-CD set, playing solo piano interpretations of songs from that era. Brubeck, then recently married and promptly drafted after graduating from the College of the Pacific, almost ended up in combat before getting an opportunity to play with an army band, which caused a music-loving colonel to install the young private as director of the band. The music chosen seems to convey a special message to his wife, Iola, with bittersweet ballads ("For All We Know"), a jaunty "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)," and the dreamy interpretation of "Where or When." A surprising choice is "Lilly Marlene," a European song frequently played by Nazi propagandist broadcaster Axis Sally, which Brubeck is able to play in a lush setting. After the Germans succeeded in destroying nearly every bridge which crossed the Rhine River into their homeland in advance of the Allies, the bridge at Remagen was finally captured, though Brubeck's unit had to make due with a pontoon bridge due to its damaged state. His "We Crossed the Rhine" is a tense piece that evokes the still-dangerous conditions as they made their way into Germany. "Weep No More" is Brubeck's poignant ballad to his wife to let her know that he is out of danger for good, with the war in Europe at an end. He concludes the first disc with a dramatic interpretation of "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To." This limited-edition release is one of the most unique items in Brubeck's considerable discography, and should be snapped up without hesitation.


Born: December 6, 1920 in Concord, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the 1950s and '60s, few American jazz artists were as influential, and fewer still were as popular, as Dave Brubeck. At a time when the cooler sounds of West Coast jazz began to dominate the public face of the music, Brubeck proved there was an audience for the style far beyond the confines of the in-crowd, and with his emphasis on unusual time signatures and adventurous tonalities, Brubeck showed that ambitious and challenging music could still be accessible. And as rock & roll began to dominate...
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