Towards the end of its last European tour, the Brubeck quartet played a concert in Hamburg. It then headed for Vienna but minus Paul Desmond, who had disappeared into the night after the Hamburg date having said that he was pursuing research for a book called Sin Cities Of The Western World. Used to Desmond’s habits, including his attachments to wine and women, Brubeck expected that Paul would catch another flight and still arrive in time for the Vienna concert. He didn’t.
Annoyed, but determined to honour his engagement, Brubeck took the stage with only Joe Morello and Gene Wright for the first and only appearance of the “Dave Brubeck Trio”. Their performance (superbly recorded) was also sensational. Without Desmond, Dave, Joe and Gene took longer and more adventurous solos than usual, much to the delight of an appreciative audience of almost 2,000 devotees.
The proceedings kicked off with a rocking “A” Train – propelled by Morello’s crisp drumming and Wright’s bouncing bass – including a quote from I’m Going To Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair, (a reference to the missing Desmond?) into his inventive solo. One Moment Worth Years, a Brubeck composition, receives a lilting and elegant introduction by the pianist, followed by another fleet-fingered Wright solo in tandem with Brubeck. Morello rounds off the performance with some impressive brushwork punctuation behind an increasingly ebullient Brubeck.
Swanee River, a Brubeck quartet favourite (notably recorded on their 1959 album Gone With The Wind), receives an uptempo recast, with Brubeck laying down some driving choruses, and engaging in spirited and telepathic exchanges with Morello.
A gently paced and elegiac interpretation of the Mexican folk tune La Paloma Azul is followed by a romping and instantly recognisable Someday My Prince Will Come, which also includes a sly quote from I’ll Take Romance. Chris Brubeck notes that in a solo superimposing three against two, his father “bends the time to the near breaking point, a musical drama that an audience can really feel and follow”. The highly satisfactory evening concludes with a high speed “A” Train that quickly becomes a sparkling duet between Morello and Brubeck.
The truant Desmond did his usual musical companions an unintended favour. The entire concert is a joy to the ears, replete with musical quotations (try identifying them all), good humour and remarkable energy. Chris Brubeck – who produced the album – has said: “I think if our dad were alive to hear this Brubeck Trio recording now, he’d be flashing his famous big smile. He would be extremely proud to hear how, more than half a century ago, he, Gene and Joe got thrown a curve ball and knocked it out of the park!” This is an unexpected and essential addition to the Brubeck canon.
St Louis Blues; One Moment Worth Years; Swanee River; La Paloma Azul; Someday My Prince Will Come; Take The “A” Train (42.41)
Brubeck (p); Joe Morello (d); Eugene Wright (b). Konzerthaus, Vienna, 12 November, 1967.
Brubeck Editions BELP20220301