Dave Brubeck Quartet: Jazz Goes To Junior College

The often reissued album, with high-quality Paul Desmond, exemplifies Brubeck's pioneering absorption of college halls into the jazz circuit


During the early 50s the Dave Brubeck Quartet was largely responsible for establishing American colleges as venues for jazz concerts. They recorded at Oberlin, Wilshire-Ebell, The College of the Pacific, The University of Michigan and The University of Cincinnati. The 1957 performances on this regularly reissued LP come from appearances at Fullerton and Long Beach Junior Colleges.

1957 of course was an important transitional year for the quartet. It had twice won the Downbeat award as the most popular small group in jazz but Joe Dodge, who had been with Brubeck since 1953, had decided to leave. He was replaced by the incomparable Joe Morello. Later in 1957 Norman Bates, who had also grown tired of life on the road, left to settle down in San Francisco. His place was taken by Eugene Wright, finally establishing what some critics later came to call “The Classic Quartet”.

Paul Desmond was really the chief attraction for most jazz fans. He is outstanding here, notably on These Foolish Things, which had been in the book since 1951 and remained in the repertoire for years. He is soon on cloud-nine, spinning an almost endless flow of melodic ideas through three choruses accompanied by Morello’s exemplary brush-work. The key-change in the coda is something of a surprise.

Half-way through The Masquerade Is Over he briefly indulges in a favourite device of playing a phrase which he repeats an octave lower – almost a personal duet. One Moment Worth Years is one of the leader’s loveliest ballads, which was introduced on his 1956 solo album Brubeck Plays Brubeck. That recording also gave us his famous In Your Own Sweet Way, which has been recorded on at least 470 occasions so far.

(1) Bru’s Blues; These Foolish Things; (2) The Masquerade Is Over; (1) One Moment Worth Years; (2) St. Louis Blues (44.03)
(1) Paul Desmond (as); Brubeck (p); Norman Bates (b); Joe Morello (d). Fullerton Junior College, California, 1 May 1957. (2) as (1) Long Beach Junior College, California, 2 May 1957.
Jazz Wax Records JWR 4628