Brubeck Plays Brubeck -- LP
1956 Columbia Records (White Demo Label)
Hopefully, the reappearance of this revelatory 1956 record will force many critics and musicians to reconsider Brubeck's stature in the world of jazz piano. Recorded late at night in his Oakland, California, home, it was Brubeck's first full solo-piano recording and also his first all-original record, and it illustrates his marvelously elegant fusion of classical and cocktail conceptions. Brubeck understands blues and swing, but he uses these elements as tools for effect, not as default settings. Brubeck instead offers a fuller palette of emotions and ideas--playful, sober, stern, happy, pensive, cerebral. While "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "The Duke" have become standards, the album includes obscure gems such as the minisuite "Two-Part Contention," with its many tempo, mood, and stylistic turns, and the discreetly swinging "Walkin' Line," although he lapses into melodrama with "Weep No More." Still, on "The Duke" (originally titled "The Duke Meets Darius Milhaud"), it's fascinating to hear how easily and smoothly he fits all 12 scale notes into his opening bass figure. As he himself points out in the brilliant original notes (reprinted here), the marriage of European music and American music dates back to New Orleans jazzmen such as King Oliver. And to dismiss any notions of intellectualism in jazz would be a great insult to everyone from Oliver to Charlie Parker to John Lewis to Bill Evans to Sun Ra. This is the jazz of Brubeck's own experience, and while it may sound too poised and polished for some tastes, it is honestly his and must be viewed as such. --Marc Greilsamer
"Swing Bells" 3:39
"Walkin' Line" 2:47
"In Your Own Sweet Way" 5:01
"Two-Part Contention" 5:39
"Weep No More" 3:59
"The Duke" 2:54
"When I Was Young" 3:19
"One Moment Worth Years" 4:55
"The Waltz" 3:49
I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.
- George Best
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