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Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck Quartet - The Classic 1950s Albums

Review by Gary Hill

Dave Brubeck, in my opinion, was one of the jazz greats. He was an amazing pianist and released a lot of essential music. This set gathers up eight albums he released in the 1950s. They were remastered and two appear on each CD of this four disc set. There are live recordings and studio ones. There is a fairly wide range of music here, but it all lands within the jazz territory one expects. Seven of the albums are instrumental, while one features vocals from a guest performer. This is a great set, and an excellent way to get an instant Brubeck collection. My only complaint is that I wish it included some kind of booklet. I should mention that non-standard title spellings are accurate to the cover listings.

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Track by Track Review
Disc One:
Jazz at the College of The Pacific
All The Things You Are

Brubeck's piano gets things underway. The rest of the group join after a time, and we're out into a dramatic and energetic jazz jam that is so tasty. The piano work on this gets positively fiery before it's over. This is nine-minutes and some change of killer jazz jamming.

Mellower and slower, this is more of a ballad that focuses even more on the piano. The rest of the instrumentation is used sparsely.
Lullaby In Rhythm
I love the classy, up-tempo groove on this number. This is more classy and classic old-school jazz exploration. I really love the drum showcase later in the track, but everyone puts in some great work on this thing.
I'll Never Smile Again
The bass on this number really stands out for me. This is a cool, classic sounding jazz groove that's just so strong.
I Remember You
Energized and grooving, this is another extended cut that runs more than nine minutes. It's another winner, too. It features some great jamming and changes.
For All We Know
Slower moving, this is a balladic cut that has a lot of emotion and beauty packed into it. It gets louder and more intense later with the piano really driving the emotions to higher levels.
Brubeck Time

The bass features prominently on this track. It has a great bluesy, classic jazz groove to it. It's another winner.

Jeepers Creepers
This old chestnut gets a killer up-tempo performance and variant. They really put in some killer jamming based on this thing.
Pennies From Heaven
I really dig this tasty jazz groove. It features great work from all involved, and the driving bass on this track keeps it moving and grounded.
Why Do I Love You?
This is fast-paced and feels a little playful. It's another spectacular jazz jam. I really love the section where the piano drives home the soloing over the top of a smoking hot bass line.
Stompin' For Mili
The horn playing really shines as this one fires out of the gate with style and charm. There is some positively amazing piano work further down the road. All through the piece that bass just kills it. I think this might be my favorite track on this first CD of the set. Everything about it just work so well.
Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
This is another powerhouse jazz groove. It's got so much charm and style. The piano soloing later is so potent. This is another highlight of the first CD.
A Fine Romance

Here we get another winner. It's a bit less intense than the last couple, though. Then again, those two set the bar so high.

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
White not a highlight, this is another effective jazz tune.
Disc Two:


Jazz Impressions of Eurasia

This comes in rather understated. It grows out into a solid jazz romp that is packed with charm. This track includes a percussion solo. Everyone puts in strong performances on this thing.

Brandenburg Gate
I really love some of the melodies delivered by the horn on this thing. The whole track just exudes an air of cool. The piano  solo movement feels quite classical.
The Golden Horn
Frantic percussion gets this underway. Piano joins after a time. This has a great energy and tension. The piece grows out from there and has some intriguing twists and turns.
Thank You (Dziekuje)
The piano on this is packed with emotion and feels quite classical at times.
Marble Arch
I really love the piano soloing on this piece. The airy jazz arrangement does a good job of providing a backdrop for it, too. This is an interesting ride from start to finish.
Calcutta Blues
Starting with piano, this is, as the title says, a blues. It becomes a slow moving, but particularly tasty jam. There is pretty extensive drum solo on this number, too.
Time Out
Blue Rondo À La Turk

Fast paced piano starts this, and the arrangement fills out from there. This has some great energy and melodies. There are also some unusual, yet very effective, changes here bringing different moods to play.

Strange Meadow Lark
A dramatic and potent piano solo is on the menu here. In fact, that's the only instrument we hear for the first couple minutes of this track. The number works out from there to a melodic jazz groove. It drops to a mellower and expressive piano solo for the final movement of the piece.
Take Five
It might be obvious, but this is my absolute favorite Brubeck number. It just oozes cool and charm. Everything about this works so well. If you've heard just one song from Brubeck, this is probably it.
Three To Get Ready
The melody and vibe on this track is playful and fun. It doesn't rise to the level of the number that came before it, but that's got more to do with how magical that one is. I do really enjoy some of the cool percussion work. The piano soloing gets pretty intense at times, too.
Kathy's Waltz
The piano really covers some great ground on this number. This one has a lot more classical music built into it. It's also very effective.
Everybody's Jumpin'
This has a classy and classic groove at play. The bass line is so magical, but then again so is everything else on this tune. It has a definite bluesy vibe at play.
Pick Up Sticks
I really dig the bass work on this. The piano soloing is positively on fire, too. This is another standout tune.
Disc Three:
Jazz Goes to College
Balcony Rock

Bouncy piano gets this live performance going. The rest of the group join after a time, and the horn creates some tasty melodies. They keep reinventing this, and the piano gets some great soloing in further down the musical road. This track runs nearly 12 minutes, and they put all that time to good use with a lot of give and take and interaction.

Out Of Nowhere
I really love the classic sounding groove on this number. It's a lot of fun. It has a lot of style and charm built into it.
Le Souk
Energetic and grooving, this track is all class. It has plenty of style and charm and features some great jamming.
Take The 'A' Train
I really dig this jam a lot. It has so much character and style, and the audience sure seems to enjoy it. The piano playing late gets so intense.
The Song Is You
I love the up-tempo bass work and cool shuffling groove to this track. It's another classy jazz romp. The horn playing on this is absolutely top-notch.
Don't Worry 'Bout Me
Mellower and slower, this has a blues ballad kind of feeling to it. It has some killer jamming incorporated.
I Want To Be Happy
This is more energized and driving. It's another stunning jazz romp.
Brubeck and Rushing
There'll Be Some Changes Made

I really love the fast paced arrangement here. This has some real blues in the mix. It's also the first song on this whole set to include vocals. Those vocals are courtesy of the "Rushing" in the title to the album, Jimmy Rushing. He's featured on all the rest of the songs on this CD.

My Meloncholy Baby
Slower moving, this has plenty of that blues thing at play. There is some killer jamming at play as this works through.
Blues In The Dark
I really love this slow blues so much. It just has so much going for it.
I Never Knew (I Could Love Anyone Like I'm Loving You)
I really love the swinging energy on this, and the whole tune just oozes cool.
Ain't Misbehavin'
A slower tune, this is so classic.
All By Myself
This has good energy and swing. It's nothing exceptional, but it has its charms.
River, Stay 'Way From My Door
This gets really powerful at times. It's not a big revelation, but it's another solid tune.
You Can Depend On Me
I really love the piano work on this. The swinging groove is all class, too. Those two things really elevate this number.
Am I Blue?
I really love the driving piano work on this blues romp. It's such a strong cut. It's a great way to end the album in style. The whole performance is just impassioned.
Disc Four:
Gone With the Wind
Swanee River

This is a fairly mellow arrangement in comparison to the previous album. The piano shines the most here.

The Lonesome Road
Starting even mellower, this grows out into a real powerhouse mode that is so tasty. This has a cool balance between mellower and more intense stuff. It also has some really passionate instrumental work.
Georgia On My Mind
There is a real smooth and flowing groove to this number. It's another classy one, if a little restrained.
Camptown Races
I love the energy and vibe of this tune. It's a fun romp.
Camptown Races (Alternate Take)
As much as I liked the other version, I think I prefer this take on the piece. It just seems to have some extra magic.
Short'nin Bread
This has some killer drum soloing. It's also an entertaining tune.
Basin Street Blues
I like this playful jam quite a bit.
Ol' Man River
The jazz stylings on this song are among the best on this particular album of the set. This sways and grooves and really works well.
Gone With The Wind
Another highlight of this seventh album presented here, this features some killer bass work and a great jazz arrangement. It's all class.
Brubeck A La Mode
Dorian Dance

More of a full and dramatic jazz concept is in the driver's seat here. This leans toward fusion at times. It's also got some really intense jamming included. The track is one of my favorites of the whole set.

Peace, Brother
This jam gets so classy as it shifts and turns and makes its way through a lot of intriguing territory. It has some exceptional bass work, but everyone gives it their all. It has some cool changes and intriguing mellow movement later.
Percussion starts things here, and they fire out from there into another smoking hot jam. It has a lot of more traditional jazz on the menu. It's tasty and so strong.
Lydian Line
A bit on the mellower side, this number has a lot style and charm.
This is frantic, which certainly fits the title. It's also rather crazed. At less that two minutes long, it's short one.
Frisco Fog
There is a dreamy sort of texture as this cut gets underway. It grows out into a tasty, more traditional jazz groove. It features both killer piano and horn jamming. Everyone here puts in a great showing, though. They also do a great job of using both mellower and more intense stuff for contrast.
The Piper
I really enjoy this classy jam. It has a good energy and a fun vibe.
This piano solo does a great job of merging classical and jazz elements.
One For The Kids
Rising up on the mellow side, this grows out with some sounds of kids' music. They turn in a killer jazz performance based on that foundation as this continues.
A tasty slower jazz romp is on the menu here. This is effective and does a great job of bringing things down in style to end.

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