Dave Brubeck

Legacy of a Legend

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Just in time for Dave Brubeck's 90th birthday celebration, Sony Legacy issues this double-disc compilation of tunes recorded between 1954 and 1970, beginning a year-long birthday campaign at the label and predating the screening of Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way, a documentary film whose executive producer is Clint Eastwood. (Another clebratory release, the Concord Music Group's the Definitive Dave Brubeck--also a double disc--covers the rest of his career before and after what is represented here.) Legacy of a Legend's 21 tunes were handpicked by the pianist. Of course his selections include favorites like "Take Five," "Blue Rondo à la Turk," "Jeepers Creepers," and his familiar takes on tunes from the movies and the theater, including "Gone with the Wind," and "Somewhere." Hardcore Brubeck fans will have almost everything here, but there is one previously unreleased cut, a live take of "Three to Get Ready" from the Dave Brubeck Quartet's final concert in 1967. That said, hearing this music assembled in this way offers startling proof of Brubeck's truly iconic genius for the musical depth and range he displays as a composer, arranger, and pianist, both live and in the studio. He revisits the haunting (and now legendary) "Thank You (Dziekuje)," recorded live in Poland with its gorgeous tribute to Chopin that is still provocative. The harmonic interplay between the pianist and Paul Desmond showcased on "Camptown Ladies" and "Something to Sing About" (to mention just two places) is furthered by the subtly insistent but utterly innovative rhythm section of Eugene Wright and Joe Morello. There are trio cuts here as well, and a couple of memorable vocal performances, too: there's Carmen McCrae fronting on "My One Bad Habit" from 1961's The Real Ambassadors and Louis Armstrong from the same album in an unusual setting with two pianists (Billy Kyle being the other) on "Summer Song." While there can be no arguing this is yet another compilation of Brubeck's material for Columbia, the quirky picks by the pianist provide a solid introduction for new listeners.

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