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50 Years of Dave Brubeck: Live At the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-2007

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Album Review

Dave Brubeck appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival on so many occasions since its launching in 1958 that it seems like compiling highlights to make up just one CD should have been an impossible task. But Brubeck's longtime manager Russell Gloyd was involved with co-producing this compilation and the result should please the pianist's fans. Brubeck hardly fits the stylistic molds of some of his critics in this collection, that he is too bombastic or dismissing him merely as a cool player. The pianist not only evolves as a player and composer, but shows an incredible knowledge of music from earlier eras. His classic quartet with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond is well-represented with a lengthy excursion into Brubeck's "Two Part Contention" (with its intriguing use of counterpoint), the always swinging treatment of "Someday My Prince Will Come," and the crowd-pleasing favorite "Take Five" (though it suffers from over-modulation). Two tracks are from his years with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, bassist Jack Six, and drummer Alan Dawson, including Brubeck's lonely, exotic "The Sermon on the Mount" and Mulligan's spry Latin-flavored "Jumping Bean." Brubeck's challenging "Tritonis" features Bobby Militello on flute in an extended solo recalling Rahsaan Roland Kirk's simultaneously singing and playing, in addition to regular quartet members Bill Smith (clarinet), electric bassist Chris Brubeck, and drummer Randy Jones. Bassist Stan Poplin is the pianist's sole accompanist for Brubeck's poignant memorial tribute written following Mulligan's death, appropriately titled "Goodbye Old Friend." A delightful romp through "I Got Rhythm" showcasing Miltello on alto sax and guest Christian McBride. Brubeck dug deep to recall old chestnuts like the blazing "Sleep" and the loping, easygoing "Margie" (the latter featuring Michael Moore's amusing arco bass). While Brubeck fans may regret the omission of two suites that the pianist premiered at the Monterey Jazz Festival, "^The Real Ambassadors" (with Louis Armstrong) and "Cannery Row Suite" (with Kurt Elling and Roberta Gambarini), hopefully these performances will appear in later volumes of this superb series recorded at the legendary festival.

Customer Reviews

Cool Compilation

A wonderful collection of Brubeck noteworthies, and with excellent sound quality for a live recording. A fitting trbute to a master, with solid swing in the opening Two-Part Contention and lyrical follow on with Someday My Prince Wll Come. Swing out to the Brubeck hallmark, Take Fve. I Got Rhythm...indeed!


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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