Chuck Nessa

Dave Brubeck - RIP

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I like Time Further Out best as well. I spin it more than Time Out itself.

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I'm surprised at the proportion of ambivalence toward - dislike of Brubeck's music!

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A friend sent me this link. Thought I'd pass it along to any Brubeck fans here.

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Letter from today's Guardian (following others recently on Brubeck):

"All this stuff about increasingly odd time signatures rather misses the point about Dave Brubeck. His venturing away from 4/4 time effectively disguised the fact (unintentional or otherwise) that he just wasn't very good playing in standard time. Listen to his early commercial successes (Jazz at Oberlin etc) and what you get is all that Germanic hammering and never a hint of the swing that is the lifeblood of jazz. He simply wasn't in the same league as masters like Bud Powell and was sadly overrated by people who should have known better.

Richard Carter

London"

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I've been hesitant to say much, but that pretty much nails it.

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Brubeck had great time. When he wanted to play simple swinging lines he did just fine.

His comping was good and often perfect.

He seems to have really enjoyed playing with chords/harmony in his improvisations.

I wish he had found a less heavy handed way of doing it :-)

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Letter from today's Guardian (following others recently on Brubeck):

"...what you get is all that Germanic hammering..."

What's funny about that is that I've heard more than a few older jazz musicians who had no real liking for "Latin" musics on their own terms (i.e. - they'd call a tune with a "Latin" feel to play bebop over and let it go at that; I mean, they were some bad cats, but...play them a hardcore Salsa thing and it was, like, ok, two chords and a lot of singing, where's the MUSIC? ) hear people like Eddie Palmieri (ok, there's really nobody like Eddie Palmieri...) and dismiss it as not swinging and sounding like Brubeck!

So, where's this hidden Afro-Cuban-Germanic link to all this hammering going on, anyway?

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Letter from today's Guardian (following others recently on Brubeck):

"...what you get is all that Germanic hammering..."

What's funny about that is that I've heard more than a few older jazz musicians who had no real liking for "Latin" musics on their own terms (i.e. - they'd call a tune with a "Latin" feel to play bebop over and let it go at that; I mean, they were some bad cats, but...play them a hardcore Salsa thing and it was, like, ok, two chords and a lot of singing, where's the MUSIC? ) hear people like Eddie Palmieri (ok, there's really nobody like Eddie Palmieri...) and dismiss it as not swinging and sounding like Brubeck!

So, where's this hidden Afro-Cuban-Germanic link to all this hammering going on, anyway?

Those guys can say Eddie Palmieri et al. sounded like Brubeck as a way of putting down both Brubeck and Palmieri et al., but did it sound that way to you? If not, I don't see the point, other than that 'more than a few older jazz musicians who had no real liking for "Latin" musics on their own terms' were in the Palmieri et al. case dealing from relative ignorance/lack of real experience. But that doesn't necessarily prove that their judgment of Brubeck's rhythmic alleged rhythmic incapacities was mistaken, unless (again) you feel that Brubeck's rhythmic approach was truly akin to that of Palmieri et al.

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It sounded to me like some guys playing rhythm the way they felt it. Palmieri hits a sweet spot with me that Brubeck seldom did, but I've never recoiled in horror at Brubeck either. It's not like he was this malevolent force or anything.

And actually, yeah, once you get past each man's "accents" (in the musical "language" sense, I can hear a similarity. Not a sense of shared roots or anything, just a natural inclination to play cross-rhythmically because that's where "it" is for them. No, Brubeck didn't swing like Bud Powell. And Eddie Palmieri can't extrapolate standard changes like Art Tatum. Which is kinda the point, but both ways, not just one way.

What I really found interesting - other than the fact that people who could hear so much could also hear so little - was that in both cases, people who were very astute in one world were made very uncomfortable by worlds in which harmony and one kind of swing took a back seat to other kinds of swing and types of harmony paths that were not rooted in "playing changes" in a "knowing" manner. The same players had a lot of the same distaste for more "basic" forms of blues. They were great blues players themselves, but the whole three-chords-at-most-moaning-Delta type thing was something they actively scoffed at.

And ok, I get that, why they themselves felt that way about all of those things. But if you want to ask me how it all sounds to me, I'll tell you that a gilded cage is only not a beautiful prison when the door is left open. And when the door is left open, sometimes some other stuff comes inside, not just the bird. And oh well about that! Do you want a bird or a prisoner? And if you're the bird, hey, you do what you gotta do to be the kind of bird you need to be.

Do I think that Brubeck was this under-appreciated "genius" or anything, like some appear to be claiming now ? No, not even. But I have never, ever, felt the urge to go to the bathroom when he was soloing either, if you know what I mean.

Besides, if "being comfortable in your own skin" is an attribute, then this guy was that guy - the one who was definitely not what "supposed to be" was supposed to be, , and never pretended that he was, even when he was made out to be what "supposed to be" was supposed to be. Brubeck wins at life, at least that round of it.

I mean, this is not...wrong. It may be a lot of things (and just as much not a lot of other things), but I can't find wrong in there anywhere. I might get up to fix a sandwich, but again, that's a whole 'nother thing than needing to go to the bathroom. Entirely.

As for Eddie Palmieri, hell, let's talk about Charlie Palmieri!

No, neither Palmieri really sounds like Brubeck, nor Brubeck really like them. But they don't sound like natural enemies either, and over the long haul, how many enemies do you really need in order to remain valid? Not all that many, I'd say.

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Can't find anything wrong with this one, either:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCr0Zk0OF8I

Back to Eddie, this is not so far off into another universe as to not trigger some foggy-eyed/eared Afro-Germanic-Hammering red flags to be raised, if indeed there are red flags for that sort of thing at one's disposal. I guess they sell them under the counter where I live.

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well, I once compared his playing to someone who keeps shuffling a deck of cards, but never gets around to actually playing the game.

Edited by AllenLowe

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But if the shuffling actually is the game, you can't really complain.

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last night's dred scott trio (scott, spencer murphy, bill campbell) performance at small's featured dave brubeck compositions.

as dred wrote, dave was a brutish pianist and couldn't swing, but wrote great tunes."

if you get a chance to hear scott interpret brubeck compositions, don't miss it.

they reveal a beauty that i previously had not heard.

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I think Brubeck simply wasn't interested in "swinging" in the conventional jazz sense. He wanted to do different things, rhythmically, inspired by Milhaud and the like. I fyou look at his phrasing this way, it all makes sense, and he succeeded. There are many more ways of rhythmic phrasing than just swinging. But they all hit a groove, if done well.

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Seeing the topic title appear at this date made my heart skip a beat. I thought I had already been through this. As it turns out I already had. Sleep well.

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rather than dave's characteristics, with which we are all familiar, i wanted this post to highlight the rare beauty and cleverness of his tunes, when put into the loving competent hands of other fine musicians.

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Of course. There are too few of his tunes in the fake books etc. We have "In your own sweet way" in the bandbook - a real challenge to improvise on, as it goes through all keys, more or less, in one chorus.

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I use to think I only digged Brubeck because of Desmond, but when you compare his releases without piano and Brubeck's leadership, you understand what Brubeck was bringing to the quartet.

He suffers some critics because of his lack of drug chic IMO, which is way he out lived and performed them all!



In saying that, I still think his Bossa Nova USA album is the most wooden interpretation of that musical form possible.

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Besides the early trios (which I like a lot, not only for Tjader) there are a few tracks scattered over the quartet LPs played in a trio setting for long passages, which always make me wish he had done a trio album with Wright and Morello. Like the opener "Melanctha" on the "Tonight Only!" album, where Desmond appears only for a short solo in the middle - the remainder is a journey through Brubeck's musical world like some Ellington trio pieces are.

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Dave-and-Iola-Brubeck.jpg

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That' very sad news. She must have been a very nice person, Duncan Reid told me she helped him quite a bit with information about Tjader's time with Brubeck. She was a real jazz partner, AFAIK - her contribution to The Real Ambassadors was substantial.

R.I.P. ....

Edited by mikeweil

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