Park Avenue Southby Dave Brubeck
This live CD by the Dave Brubeck Quartet comes from a pair of after-midnight performances in a Manhattan Starbuck's. The musicians seem very stimulated by the odd surroundings, producing an enticing mix of standards, new Brubeck compositions, and the inevitable "Take Five." The jaunty opener, "On the Sunny Side of the Street," gives way to a burning take of "Love for Sale," featuring Bobby Militello's soulful sax. Brubeck wrote the mournful "Elegy" for Norwegian journalist Randi Hultin, who died of cancer before she was able to hear it. The combination of Militello's haunting flute, Michael Moore's matchless arco bass, Randy Jones' soft use of mallets, and the leader's understated piano is powerful enough to hush any audience. The brisk jazz waltz "Don't Forget Me" was inspired by a closing remark over the phone from an old friend, causing Brubeck to immediately sit down and compose the piece on the spot. "I Love Vienna," a jazz waltz taken at a faster clip, shows the influence of Strauss. Although "New Orleans Stomp" is initially powered by a common drum riff heard all over the Crescent City, the main theme is hardly within the "cool" pigeonhole to which many ill-informed critics readily assign Brubeck; this demanding piece is better described as post-bop. "Take Five" has long been a solo feature for Jones (who began continuously working with Brubeck over 22 years earlier, longer than any Brubeck alumni), and he doesn't disappoint the crowd in this fairly brief rendition. In case anyone had ideas of bringing the group back for yet another encore, Brubeck makes his thoughts clear with a playful romp through the chestnut "Show Me the Way to Go Home." Brubeck's excellent liner notes and the numerous photos from the concerts add to the value of this highly recommended CD.
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