Dave Brubeck: Early Years – The Singles Collection 1950-52

Collection of Fantasy sides reminds that the renowned Brubeck-Desmond partnership was rooted in an accident that limited the pianist's dexterity


This double-disc set contains the A and B sides from almost all the single records that Brubeck made for the Fantasy label. 

Of the 50 tracks, 24 are delivered by his trio with Ron Crotty on bass and Cal Tjader on drums, bongos and vibes. Eight are by his octet with Dick Collins trumpet, Paul Desmond alto, Dave Van Kriedt tenor, Bill Smith clarinet and baritone, Bob Collins trombone, Jack Weeks bass and Cal Tjader again on drums. Four are by his quartet with Desmond, bassist/bassoonist Fred Dutton and Herb Barman on drums. Six are by the same quartet but with Wyatt Ruther on bass and then seven with Lloyd Davis replacing Barman on drums. Brubeck plays solo piano on one track – My Romance. Many of these singles were also released on a series of eight-track 10-inch LPs by Fantasy.

The bulk of the repertoire comprises Brubeck’s interpretations of standards from the Great American Songbook by composers such as Harold Arlen, Rodgers & Hart, Gershwin, Porter, Berlin and Hoagy Carmichael. Many of these singles were issued on the old 78s and to these ears, the sound balance in the trio recordings remains weighted a little too much in favour of the piano but this improves when you get to the octet and quartet tracks.

The collection’s chronology reveals an extended period in 1951 when Brubeck didn’t record at all. It coincides with the time when Brubeck seriously damaged his spinal cord in a swimming accident. The injury affected his finger dexterity and on his eventual return to public performance he expanded the trio format to a quartet in order that Desmond could take some of the focus from him. This clearly worked out well for Brubeck and proved to be a precursor of the famous quartet a decade later that made his and Desmond’s name with their landmark recording of Time Out.

The set comes with a well-written 20-page booklet outlining some of Brubeck’s history and providing interesting background to the sessions.

CD1: Lullaby In Rhythm; You Stepped Out Of A Dream; Singing In The Rain; I’ll Remember April; Body And Soul; Let’s Fall In Love; Laura; Indiana; Blue Moon; Tea For Two; Undecided; That Old Black Magic; Sweet Georgia Brown; September Song; Spring Is Here; S Wonderful; Love Walked In; The Way You Look Tonight; September In The Rain; What Is This Thing Called Love; Fugue On Bop Themes; Prelude; Let’s Fall In Love; Indiana; Avalon; Perfida (72.06)
CD2: Always; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; How High The Moon; Squeeze Me; Too Marvelous For Words; Heart And Soul; Crazy Chris; Somebody Loves Me; Lyons Busy; A Foggy Day; Mam’selle; Me And My Shadow; At A Perfume Counter; Frenesi; Look For The Silver Lining; This Can’t Be Love; Just One Of Those Things; My Romance; Stardust; Lulu’s Back In Town; All the Things You Are; Alice In Wonderland; I May Be Wrong; On A Little Street In Singapore (73.09)

Brubeck (p) on all tracks in the following formats:
Trio: Ron Crotty (b); Cal Tjader (d, cga, bgo, vib).
Octet: Dick Collins (t); Paul Desmond (as); Dave Van Kriedt (ts); Bill Smith (cl, bar); Bob Collins (tb); Jack Weeks (b); Cal Tjader (d).
Quartet 1: Paul Desmond (as); Fred Dutton (b, bsn); Herb Barman (d).
Quartet 2 as above with Wyatt Ruther (b) in place of Dutton.
Quartet 3: as above with Lloyd Davis (d) in place of Barman. San Francisco 1949-1952.
Acrobat Records ADDCD3389