VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
24 MAR 10 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Dave Brubeck always considered Jazz At Oberlin "a breakthrough album for the Quartet." Recorded in the chapel at Oberlin College in Ohio, this 1953 live set (available in an OJC Remasters edition March 30) came just a few years too early to spotlight Brubeck the composer. But it showcases the pianist and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, his longstanding instrumental foil, as performers who sizzle and burn through familiar popular ballads and jazz standards.
Brubeck and Desmond toss around classical and pop references with easy skill and aplomb, and their casual dexterity drives the racehorse tempos of "How High The Moon" and "Perdido" harder and faster. Sometimes "How High The Moon" rages like a hurricane, yet even when the sound grows most knotty and confrontational -- like when Brubeck's solo jumps from prancing with "Ain't She Sweet" to roaring blocked notes -- the music never sounds out of control. In "Perdido," one of Charlie Parker's favorite bebop workouts, Brubeck and Desmond match each other flurry for flurry and punch for punch, sparring between and around each other, together in amazing, incendiary rhythm and tune.
Brubeck's quartet Concord discography is full of live recordings, including Jazz At The College Of The Pacific Volumes 1 and 2 (OJC, recorded later this same year); Late Night Brubeck: Live From The Blue Note (Telarc, '94); and Double Live From The USA & UK (Telarc, 2001).