Brubeck took the idea of a suite to heart with his next album Time Changes (1963). The five cuts that make the original LP’s side one are classic Quartet material. Desmond’s sax playing is as great as ever, as is the rest of the group’s playing. The compositions are all top notch as well.
The 16:40 “Elementals” is a different kettle of fish altogether. In essence, the piece is basically a concerto for Quartet and orchestra. The “Elementals” the title refers to are some of those artists whose music has inspired the composer over the years. This is achieved by embedding a number of small musical quotes into the overall piece. The motif is that of “My Favorite Things,” although Rogers and Hammerstein are uncredited.
It’s cute, it’s very Boston Pops - and it is just not my cup of tea. There are plenty of Brubeck fans who do like it however, so I will refrain from any more critiques. “Elementals” is basically one of those love it or hate it type things.
The final album of the five is Time In (1966). The eight tracks that comprise this recording break little new ground, but are classic Brubeck - and still sound fantastic.This set appends three bonus cuts, all sound as if they should have been included on the orginal release. Dave Brubeck was already something of an elder statesman at this point (albeit a reluctant one), but I think that had more to do with what he had already accomplished than anything else.
At the price Sony is offering this set for, I highly recommend it. Whether or not one considers all five of these albums “must-owns” or not, this is an excellent way to get to know some of his music.
As Donald Fagen once sang about Brubeck, just a little over 20 years after the release of Time Out: “He’s an artist, a pioneer, we’ve got to have some music on the New Frontier.”