Archive for dave brubeck

2013 Jazz Grammy® Preview #7 – Best Instrumental Composition

Posted in 2013 Grammys with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2013 by curtjazz

And it all comes down to this…

Our final look at the jazz artists nominated for 2013 Grammy Awards are in a category that I’m almost embarrassed to say that I initially overlooked.  It would make sense that the nominees in this category would be mostly jazz musicians, since you don’t hear a great deal of pop instrumentals these days. Though there are a few names that you don’t hear often these days, this category like the others is full of the familiar.

The nominees are:

Chuck Loeb for “December Dream”, from Fourplay’s Esprit De Four (Heads Up International)

Guitarist Chuck Loeb is the newest member of this contemporary jazz supergroup and from the sounds of this tune, he fits in just fine with the other three cats. It’s a very pleasant melody and a nice performance as well.

Chick Corea for “Mozart Goes Dancing”, from Chick Corea and Gary Burton’s Hot House (Concord)

He’s baaaaack! Chick Corea, who threatens to have a Christopher Cross type evening (look him up youngsters) as far as Jazz Grammy’s go, has been again nominated in this category for the only new composition on Hot House. Actually, I have to admit that I wouldn’t mind if he was the winner here. Mozart Goes Dancing is very ingratiating and the performance favorably reminds me of some of the Third Stream pieces that John Lewis wrote for the Modern Jazz Quartet in the sixties. So yeah, I’m pulling for Chick this time.

Chris Brubeck and Dave Brubeck for “Music of Ansel Adams: America” performed by the Temple University Symphony Orchestra (BCM&D)

The late great Dave Brubeck and his son, Chris composed this work in tribute to the legendary photographer Ansel Adams. This symphonic work is rendered even more impressive when seen in its original setting, accompanied by the stunning black and white photography of Mr. Adams.

Bill Cunliffe for “Overture Waltz and Rondo”, performed by the Temple University Symphony Orchestra (BCM&D)

Mr. Cunliffe, the noted jazz pianist, arranger and producer wrote this Third Stream style work. While it’s very nice I didn’t find it to be that memorable overall. Nice trumpet work by Terell Stafford on the recording.

Bill Holman for “Without a Paddle”, from The Pete Christlieb & Linda Small 11 Piece Band’s High on U (Bosco)

Bill Holman has been on the scene for over 60 years, first gaining notice with Stan Kenton, I’ve been a fan of tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb since first hearing his solo on Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues” when I was in high school. Christlieb has been a longtime admirer of Mr. Holman, so it’s nice to see them come together on this album, which consists of all Holman compositions and arrangements.

This wraps up our Grammy previews, thanks for reading them. Now let’s sit back and see who takes home the awards!

Until then, the jazz continues…

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Dave Brubeck – A Video Memorial

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , on December 5, 2012 by curtjazz

Dave Brubeck (1920 – 2012)

brubeckDave Brubeck passed away today, one day before his 92nd Birthday. 

For a time, Mr Brubeck was one of the most popular jazz musicians in the world. At the same time, he was one of the most critically reviled jazz musicians around. Time heals all wounds and by the time of his death today, love and admiration was pouring in from serious and casual jazz fans alike.

A great deal of his fame stems from “Take Five”, a song first performed in 1959 by his legendary quartet (Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, Joe Morello and Brubeck). The 45 was the first jazz single to sell a million copies. Though Brubeck was a prolific composer, he did not in fact, write “Take Five”. It was written by Mr. Desmond.

Many critics sniffed back then, at Mr. Brubeck’s music, saying that it was stiff, bombastic and worst of all, unswinging. Though the criticisms rankled at Brubeck, he kept on going, achieving great public popularity, especially  on college campuses, in the late ’50’s and early ’60’s.

I admit that when I was new to jazz, I let the opinions of others keep me from digging Brubeck’s music for a while. However, as I became a big fan of Paul Desmond’s solo work, I made my way back to the source.

I grew to like Brubeck the musician and love Brubeck the composer. His compositions, such as “The Duke”, In Your Own Sweet Way” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” are stunning in not only for their beauty, but for the complexities that they reveal upon repeated listenings.

Those unfamiliar with Mr. Brubeck’s work should start with the most famous album, Time Out. It’s a virtual greatest hits package and it captures the essence of the famous Brubeck sound.  At Carnegie Hall includes some of the same selections as Time Out, but they are so much better in the live setting.  A personal favorite is The Real Ambassadors, Brubeck’s “protest opera”, which was only performed once, at the 1962 Monterrey Jazz Festival. The music was by Mr. Brubeck and the lyrics by Brubeck and his wife, Iola. The studio album was recorded in 1961 with a “cast” of Louis Armstrong, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross and Carmen McRae and Brubeck. There are several moments of sheer brilliance including Satchmo’s still haunting vocal on “They Say I Look Like God” and his duet with McRae on “You Swing Baby”, which is “The Duke” with added lyrics. And finally an album that I just remembered since I started writing this post; Brubeck and Rushing a meeting of the Brubeck Quartet and the legendary Basie vocalist. It sounds like a train wreck on paper, but I’ll be damned if they don’t all find common ground and pull it off beautifully!

I wrote more than I intended to here. I wanted to let the videos speak for themselves, as I’m sure they will when you watch them. In any case, Rest In Peace to a true jazz giant – Dave Brubeck.