14 AUG 12 CHRIS SLAWECKI
The new Very Best of Dave Brubeck captures 15 tracks, all but one a standard, this legendary composer/pianist recorded for Fantasy Records across a five-year span (1949-53). It begins with formative sessions by Brubeck's first trio, which featured Cal Tjader on drums, progresses through his first quartets with musical soulmate alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, and amplifies the influence of ragtime legend Fats Waller and French classicist Darius Milhaud -- Brubeck's favorite pianists -- on his own playing.
After his majestic introduction, Brubeck's piano drives "Body and Soul" into a double-timed romp with Tjader's crackling congas, a triumph of melody and rhythm. In "Lyons Busy," Brubeck's only original here, his chords rock as hard and brilliant as diamonds before piano and saxophone sail through the closing in a single melodic voice. Waller and Milhaud are strongly heard through this lively yet disciplined solo "My Heart Stood Still."
Brubeck the alchemist magically turns the slight "Give A Little Whistle," from Disney's Pinocchio, into a revelatory eight-minute workout. Both principals play like their streams of ideas, and their energy to dive in those respective streams, are unending.
Very Best proves that Dave Brubeck is a piano master for every age. Material for this set comes from Stardust (Fantasy, 1990), the live Quartet recordings Jazz At The College Of The Pacific (Fantasy, 1995) and Jazz At Oberlin (OJC Remasters, 2010), plus the anthology of The Dave Brubeck Trio, 24 Classic Original Recordings (Fantasy, 1990).