Dave Brubeck Quartet: Live From The Northwest 1959

The band with Desmond, Wright and Morello is heard on previously unissued live dates, four months before the musical departures of Time Out


These performances by what became known as “the classic quartet” are being released by Brubeck Editions for the first time.

Recording four months before Time Out, when Dave Brubeck created a whole new repertoire for the group, they open with The Saints, which had been premiered by the Paramount Jubilee Singers back in 1923. Brubeck and Desmond delight in the simple harmonies of this traditional song, climaxing with four choruses of inspired counterpoint. This musical style had been a notable feature of the earlier quartets but seemed to disappear from its performances over the years.

They come a little bit more up to date with Basin Street Blues, a 16-bar sequence which had been introduced by Louis Armstrong in 1928. Along with The Lonesome Road and Gone With The Wind it was to feature on the quartet’s Gone With The Wind album later the same month. This version Wind is notable for a stop-time-chorus, one of Desmond’s favourite device. 

These Foolish Things always inspired Desmond but mysteriously he stops playing for the final eight bars of his third chorus. After the bass solo he rejoins the group for an unexpected key-change in the coda which hints at Balcony Rock.

Two Part Contention is a baroque exercise almost worthy of Johann Sebastian. It had been performed at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956 and represented Joe Dodge’s final commercial recording with the quartet. He left quite soon afterwards to be replaced by the prodigiously talented Joe Morello, and despite Desmond’s initial reservations he proved to be the ideal drummer for the quartet. Doug Ramsey’s mammoth Paul Desmond biography Take Five explains how these problems began and were resolved.

(1) When The Saints Go Marching In; Basin Street Blues; These Foolish Things: (2) Gone With The Wind; (1) Multnomah Blues; (2) Two Part Contention; The Lonesome Road (56.31)
(1) Paul Desmond (as); Brubeck (p); Eugene Wright (b); Joe Morello (d). Multnomah Hotel, Oregon, 4 April 1959.
(2) as (1) Clark College, Vancouver, Washington, 5 April 1959.
Brubeck Editions BECD2310001