The Dave Brubeck Quartet has always exemplified the class and vivacity of jazz. Formal yet innovative, nice yet sassy, Brubeck’s brand of jazz is a sensuous contradiction. Brubeck has been a dog chasing his own tail in recent years; he is so prolific, his output is so constant, he is barely able to keep up with himself. This double album of live material from the summer of 1995 follows him through both America and the United Kingdom, tinkling away at the piano keys with an effervescent smile arcing across his concentrated face.
The album is resplendent with the flash and bubble of jazz in its natural, glamorous form. The saxophone croons and purrs through “The Things You Never Remember,” then screeches through “Waltzing” or bops through “Broadway Bossa Nova.” The cymbals steam and hiss and seem to engage the rest of the drums with animated, rhapsodic conversation. The bass races like an excited pulse. And, of course, Brubeck’s piano tangos with form and formlessness, balancing a plethora of time frames, meters, tempos and cultural variations. The band is so polished that each note seems sculpted in marble. They improvise majestically, deftly alternating between the slower, good-humored musings of “What Will I Tell My Heart,” the Olympic sprint of “Take Five,” and the classic grandiosity of “Take The A Train.” Each song is pleasure to hear, wild and natural, and contributes to the vigor that makes this release a much-welcomed addition in the Brubeck canon.
E-mail Joshua Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.