Thursday, August 14, 2008
The latest collection of six Monterey Jazz Festival archival recordings, which highlight either a single night’s concert or a career of performances, includes a stunning collection of pianist Dave Brubeck’s work. The 10 pieces, from nine different concerts between 1958 and 2007, never fail to astonish.
Throughout Brubeck gives ample example of how he could play to the strengths of his various bandmates by selecting material allowing each member to shine in their best light. The historically important band, with saxophonist Paul Desmond, plays with an easy grace yet moves the time around in their multi-metered style with a simplicity that belies its difficulty. On the 1966 and 1971 recordings the group takes on a more grounded groove with Brubeck inserting himself less allowing new saxophonist Gerry Mulligan to work out his predilection for harmonic exploration.
Brubeck’s arguably best bands, from a pure technical standpoint, include saxophonist Bobby Militello. Brubeck selects material allowing Militello room to astound and dumbfound listeners with his relentlessly rushing and ricocheting improvised solos. While Brubeck may be older, his now more elegantly styled playing fits this group like a glove. You will not find a better single disc overview of Brubeck’s life’s work.