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Dave Brubeck Plays for Lovers

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Album Review

Another volume in Fantasy/Concord's Plays for Lovers is this set by Dave Brubeck, mostly recorded in the 1950s with two tracks from a set with his sons in 1985. The lion's share of material here, however, is culled from an album of Brubeck playing solo on a 1957 album entitled Plays and Plays and.... The cuts from here — "I'm Old Fashioned," "Love Is Here to Stay," "Imagination," and "I See Your Face Before Me" — are deeply romantic and lush despite the spare setting. There are also two unaccompanied solo pieces from the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond from 1952 and 1954. Of course, there are other tracks that include Paul Desmond, such as the gorgeous "For All We Know" from the Jazz at the College of the Pacific album (Ron Crotty and Joe Dodge were the rhythm section); "You Got to My Head" with Desmond, Lloyd Davis, and Crotty; and "Stardust." The problem here is not the music, most of which is top-notch, but the selection. The tunes from 1985 are completely unnecessary, being so far removed form the original Fantasy period. And then there is the sheer number of solo piano pieces — when so many of the "romantic" or "for lovers" tunes with Desmond's alto would have been at least as suitable, if not more suitable, than the material presented. Once more, Desmond gets the short end of the stick. There is absolutely nothing wrong with anything here, but this compilation could have been far better prepared.


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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