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- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Amazon has this one priced to sell, making it all but irresistible for a Prime customer, even as a 2nd copy to give to a Brubeck fan or a potential convert to this indigenous African-American art form. Dave became the first jazz musician pictured on the cover of "Time" magazine--even before his blockbuster "Time Out" album. (Only two other jazz musicians--Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk--would succeed Brubeck as subjects of "Time" cover stories). All three shared in common a total commitment to their art, avoiding gimmickry and stunts to reach an audience but rather being true to their respective muses while allowing the public to "come to them."
Although the group's reputation was secured by the release in 1959 of "Time Out" with arguably the most popular jazz standard even today (Paul's "Take 5"), the series of studio albums that ensued were often tepid and sterile compared to the early recordings made before college audiences. In many respects "Time Further Out" is a more satisfying--even exciting and engaging--album than the immortal "Time Out." The musicians are looser, freer, more open to the possibility of "making mistakes" than was the case on the predecessor. Fans of Joe Morello (and there are justifiably many) will especially appreciate the small percussion "clinic" on "Far More Drums," and by the time the program gets to "Bru's Boogie Woogie" we begin to hear some of the unrestrained "bombast" that early on characterized Dave's playing (though he came to hate the word).
Shortly after the release of "Time Further Out" the Quartet came to my school, where I had the assignment of interviewing Dave for our college radio station (WVIK, Augustana, Rock Island, IL) in his dressing room at the end of the concert. As a sophomore with a sophomoric, clueless attitude I expressed my disappointment to Dave about his recent studio recordings (including "Time Out," which struck some of us as another pro forma studio performance with the exception of the gimmick of unusual time signatures in jazz. Mine was a thoughtless, utterly graceless remark, but Dave was the father of boys who frequently went off in directions--electric bass, synthesizers, etx.--that were alien to the nevertheless patient and supportive "old man." In short, Dave Brubeck agreed with me! Shortly after, the quartet would perform a live 1963 concert in Carnegie Hall that many now consider their best performance of all time (At Carnegie Hall, And 3 years later, in 1966, Dave would kill off the quartet and seek new avenues of expression.
Still, I felt mortified every time I reflected on my "telling" Brubeck that his studio albums, including "Time Out," just didn't quite cut it. It was only much later--in 1994, to be exact--that I acquired the CD of Marian McPartland's "Piano Jazz," featuring Dave Brubeck, in what certainly must be among the very best programs in the show's 30+ year history. Besides performing scintillating duets using two pianos on some of Dave's best compositions--"The Duke," "In Your Own Sweet Way," "One Moment Worth Years," "Summer Song"--Marilyn soon brings out in Dave a youthful excitement as he talks about the early quartet--leading Marilyn to make the comment that I had regretted for 3 decades: "You know, Dave, I always prefer to be recorded live and I have the sense you to do too. The recordings before a live audience with you and Paul simply can't be beat!" Dave's response (in essence): "How right you are, Marilyn. I always prefer recording live--even now you're coming up with voicings and melodies that I've never thought of, and they're my own songs!" He then recalls some of the Quartet's early '50s recordings, singling out his performance of "Over the Rainbow" for special mention, despite its being recorded by an amateur hobbyist on a cheap tape machine. I wasn't exactly "vindicated" (I was clearly in the wrong), but I was relieved--one less thing not to have to regret. Dave would reconvene the Quartet in 1975--the 9-year hiatus brought to an end in the face of Paul's terminal illness and Morello's failing eyesight--for one last glorious concert--again before a "live" audience in Carnegie Hall.
The foregoing is certainly not "proof" of anything on this present recording and not a recommendation for or against purchase of the album, which is one of the few by the quartet with a deliberate, thinly disguised (if not blatant) profit motive--a "sequel" to the success of the album containing "Take 5." Of course it adheres to the formulaic pattern of a successful studio album--more rather than fewer tracks, time lengths agreed upon in advance, a carefully calculated balance of fast / slow, major / minor, individual feature numbers for each member of the quartet. But on the whole the album is looser, less stiff, more fearless than most recordings done during costly studio time. Above all, it "swings" more than Dave's other studio albums. Some of the lyrical beauty of Paul's playing shines through on "Bluette," Dave exhibits some of the "bombast" that was often a signature of his live concert soloing (as an accompanist, on the other hand, he's one of the most empathetic, "quiet" pianist of all). The program makes for good background music (try "Slow and Easy") or party music (try "Bru's Boogie Woogie") or just plain serious, undistracted listening.
Most importantly, the album invites the listener to be the judge of the concerning the "studio" vs. "live" debate. The last track is a different, "live" version of the introductory "studio" tune, "It's a Raggy Waltz," except that the tempo is faster and the total time more than a complete minute longer than the earlier studio version. If you judge this final performance on the disc the better track, you're about to discover the real Brubeck and Desmond, the recordings inviting serious listening and undivided attention. Grab ahold of "Jazz Goes to College," "At Oberlin," and "Carnegie Hall 1963" (which is the source of this final, extra, live track). You're about to hear a couple of master storytellers at work, leaving nothing behind (Paul's playing on the "Blue Rondo" of "Brubeck at Carnegie Hall '63" makes the original version on "Time Out" sound anemic and incomplete).