I’m not sure what Dave Brubeck hopes to gain from his experimentation with time signatures. Is he setting out to blind us with technical science? Does he believe it will have some influence on the future development of jazz? Or is his aim simply to produce something different and more interesting than his previous LPs? If this is the case, then even a non-Brubeck enthusiast like myself is forced to concede that his efforts are well worth investigating.
This set, a follow-up to the similarly patterned “Time Out” album (and the hit single “Take Five”) is the most provocative and entertaining Brubeck recital I’ve heard for a couple of years. It is by no means devoid of faults, but it has a degree of sustaining power that is absent from so many of the pianist’s albums.
Moreso than most of his past releases, this is very much Brubeck’s album. His is the principal voice, and Paul Desmond isn’t featured as much as you’d expect – which pleases me, since with all due respect to Desmond’s technical and creative ability, I find his anaemic alto unbearably irritating.
“Raggy Waltz”, a rhythmic variation of rag and waltz patterns in blues form, strikes me as the most impressive track, and “Bru’s Boogie Woogie” and “Far More Blue” are almost equally engaging. Brubeck comes through nicely on all three titles, beautifully supported by the Gene Wright-Joe Morello team.
“Maori Blues”, featuring typical heavy-handed Brubeck, is attractive if somewhat repetitious, and the hand-clapping “Unsquare Dance” has a loose swing that is hard to ignore. Drum solos, no matter how good, aren’t my cup of tea, and Morello’s unquestionably brilliant display on “Far More Drums” leaves me cold.
It’s A Raggy Waltz; Bluette; Charles Matthews Halleluiah; Far More Blue (19 min) – Far More Drums; Maori Blues; Unsquare Dance; Bru’s Boogie Woogie; Blue Shadows In The Street (18½ min)
Paul Desmond (alt); Dave Brubeck (p); Gene Wright (b); Joe Morello (d).
(Fontana STFL 578 12inLP 37s. 2d.)