JJ 05/61: Dave Brubeck & Jimmy Rushing

Sixty years ago a meeting between jazz aesthete Brubeck and blues shouter Rushing left Gerald Lascelles confounded. First published in Jazz Journal May 1961


I have spent much time listening to this album, mostly on the grounds that I respect Teo Macero as an A & R man, but I cannot understand what possessed him to put these two men on the same record.

Whichever way I look at it, the session is a disaster, first for Jimmy, who carries the whole thing as if there was no one else in the studio at all, but suffers all the agony of a man who knows that the others are there but not helping.

Secondly for Dave Brubeck, who exposes himself as a musician incapable of producing even the most simple sympathetic accompaniment (perhaps this explains Paul Desmond’s outbursts in the past). That piano never gets near Jimmy, but flutters around in the background like a moth blinded by candlelight.

Paul Desmond contributes something, notably in “Misbehavin'”, but his alto voice is frankly not very compatible with Jimmy’s vocal style. Oddly enough, the whole group come nearest to Jimmy in “Evenin'”, one of those old pieces he used to do with Basie.

Records by Rushing are sufficiently rare that we cannot afford to have this sort of thing dished up to us. The album only demonstrates the folly of trying to mix two widely differing forms of jazz, if Brubeck’s music even qualifies for such generous terms.

There’ll Be Some Changes Made; My Melancholy Baby; Blues In The Dark; I Never Knew; Ain’t Misbehavin’ (17 min.) – Evenin’; All By Myself; River, Stay ‘Way From My Door; You Can Depend On Me; Am I Blue (17¾ min.)
Jimmy Rushing (vcl) ; Dave Brubeck (p); Paul Desmond (alt); joe Benjamin (bs); Joe Morello (d).
(Fontana STFL 550. 12inLP. 35s. 9½d.)