Next up is the superlative Brubeck Plays Brubeck (1956). As the title implies, this is Dave Brubeck playing solo, on nine remarkable pieces. The album was recorded at home, over the course of two days. The album is somewhat improvisational, as he would take a basic idea and then run with it as far as he felt was right.
The result is a beautifully meditative course in the music of a master pianist. There are times, such as on “Walkin’ Line” that I swore he had someone playing bass behind him. But it is all him. Other personal favorites on the album are “Two Part Contention,” “The Duke,” and “One Moment Worth Years.”
Gone With The Wind (1959) was recorded with the “classic” quartet of Brubeck (piano), Paul Desmond (alto sax), Gene Wright (bass), and Joe Morello (drums). The basic concept here is a tribute to the great state of Georgia, and the South in general. So we are treated to versions of such classics as “Camptown Races,” and “Swanee River.” To be honest, this is the one that I will probably play the least. His version of “Georgia On My Mind” is undeniable though, and the band are in top form.
The fifth and final CD in the set is Jazz Impressions Of New York (1964). As the title suggests, this is Dave’s postcard to Manhattan, and it is marvelous. Jumping off with the theme to a short-lived TV series called Mr. Broadway, Brubeck musically describes “the city that never sleeps” with this record.
He joins a long list of other musicians who have attempted to put into music their reactions to one of the greatest cities in the world. Say what you will about New York, but it is ever-changing, and endlessly fascinating. The same holds true with Brubeck’s love letter. The 11 tunes run the gamut from the beautiful “Broadway Romance” to the busy “Spring In Central Park,” to the downright funky title track. Time Out fans take note, “Uptown Rhumba” would have fit right in on it.
Sony has done a nice job with this set. The original versions of the LPs are reproduced exactly in CD form, including the initial liner notes, which were left off of subsequent reissues. The collections are also very reasonably priced. For those who are curious about Dave Brubeck, this is the place to begin.