Dave Brubeck: Nocturnes

Dave Brubeck: Nocturnes

by John Salmon
     
 

The cover of this disc of short piano pieces by Dave Brubeck is doubly misleading. Few (if any) of these works were designated as nocturnes when they were first composed; the title was given to 24 of the 26 pieces when they were published as a set in 1997. Nor were they part of any category applied by Brubeck himself. They span a period from about 1940 ("Lullaby,"… See more details below

Overview

The cover of this disc of short piano pieces by Dave Brubeck is doubly misleading. Few (if any) of these works were designated as nocturnes when they were first composed; the title was given to 24 of the 26 pieces when they were published as a set in 1997. Nor were they part of any category applied by Brubeck himself. They span a period from about 1940 ("Lullaby," which Brubeck wrote for his future wife Iola when both were students at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, CA) to the early 2000s. And while many of them are slow and lyrical enough to fall under the nocturne label, all kinds of moods and programs are represented: there are Mexican- and Japanese-flavored pieces, works written for personal and familial uses, works dedicated to other musicians, and so on. In short, what's contained here is not a set of nocturnes by Dave Brubeck but merely some pages from his notebook, mostly lasting just a minute or two in performance. And as such, they're quite attractive and offer insights into the thought processes of an artist who stood apart from other promoters of jazz/classical fusion in that he tried to cross the boundary from both sides. Brubeck studied with French composer Darius Milhaud in Oakland, and anyone who doubts the depth of Milhaud's influence should consider that Brubeck named his first child Darius. Some pieces are little exercises in insouciant French style (such as "I See, Satie"), with hints of jazz influence. Other works would require only the addition of Brubeck's famous jazz quartet of the Take Five era to fit well on one of his bestselling LPs of the early '60s. Working with an economy of means, Brubeck gives each little piece its own personality; sample "Audrey" (track 20), a lovely evocation of the actress Audrey Hepburn that switches from even to syncopated rhythms midway through. Slight as they are, the pieces pass the test for effective jazz/classical fusion: they draw not only on jazz rhythms but seek to catch some of the spontaneous quality of jazz even as they apply systems drawn from classical music. Pianist John Salmon uses improvisation to elaborate three pieces, and thereby suggests how the same thing could be done with the others -- a wise decision. The liner notes by Brubeck himself are a special bonus of this disc, which will be essential for anyone interested in Brubeck (who wrote a great deal of concert music) or in fusions generally.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/29/2006
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943930120
catalogNumber:
8559301
Rank:
220181

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Tracks

  1. Nocturnes, for piano  - Dave Brubeck  - John Salmon

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