Dave Brubeck in Moscow

Dave Brubeck

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Dave Brubeck in Moscow Review

by Ken Dryden

This bootleg of Dave Brubeck's tour of the former Soviet Union in 1987 was supposedly taken from the same concert as the one excerpted on Brubeck's Concord CD Moscow Night (Concord considered but never issued a second CD from Moscow), but the jury is still out. Unfortunately, the excellent performances heard on this disc are marred by the low quality that is all too common among Melodiya's concert recordings of classical artists; this master tape likely came from an audience taping because of the distortion, the lack of balance among the instruments, and the far too audible coughs and sneezes heard on occasion. Oddly enough, there are only three numbers on this CD that are also present on Moscow Night, and only one of those, "Take Five," sounds very similar on both dates ("Unsquare Dance" and "Theme for June" are the other two). Brubeck's upbeat arrangement of the Disney tune "Someday My Prince Will Come" can still bring joy to the most dour heart, while his Oriental blues "Koto Song" has a captivating extended introduction that sets up Bill Smith's haunting clarinet solo. Smith's electronic gadgetry adds a new dimension to Brubeck's "Blues for Newport," which is played much faster than its debut performance on the CD of the same name. Son Chris switches from his fretless electric bass to bass trombone for the crowd-pleasing strut "King for a Day" (from Brubeck's The Real Ambassadors). Drummer Randy Jones draws the spotlight for a sensational solo in "Pange Lingua March," which became a regular feature for the percussionist in the years that followed. Brubeck fans will definitely want to pick up this CD, though better sound would have given it a higher rating.

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