It isn't every day that an artist devotes almost an entire release to the music of Dave Brubeck, but pianist Joe Gilman did well enough with this studio outing that he delighted Brubeck himself with this recording, the first in what is hopefully a long series. He is joined by two fine young musicians attending the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific, bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown (both of whom played in a trio with Brubeck during the Master's Concert at the 2004 IAJE Conference to great applause). Gilman, who is also a full-time professor at the Institute, selected works written through Brubeck's long career, including a few that may not have yet been released by the composer. "Blue Rondo a la Turk" is full of twists and humor as the trio plays with the rhythm of this famous piece written in 9/8 time. Another well-known song, "In Your Own Sweet Way" (which has essentially become a jazz standard), matches Gilman's inventive bassline with his turbulent right hand, removing it far from its easygoing ballad origins. "Weep No More," written to let Brubeck's young wife, Iola, know that he was glad to be returning safely to her after serving in World War II, is a buoyant bop treatment with intricate basslines by Sanders and cooking piano by the leader. Iola Brubeck is also honored in "For Iola," which has a playfulness suggesting a group of children in Gilman's interpretation. Both "Tender Woman" and "Recuerdo" date from a long out of print Mexican-flavored LP meeting with Gerry Mulligan called Compadres. "Tender Woman" was conceived as a mellow ballad at a steady tempo, but the trio liberates it with a bit of adventurous playing by the leader. "Recuerdo" remains a sauntering, slightly jaunty work. "Theme for June," written by Howard Brubeck (Dave's older brother), has long been a part of his concert repertoire. Gilman's dreamy piano is accented by Brown's sensitive brushwork in a moving performance. "Love and Anger" is a little-known tune that Brubeck may not have yet recorded and released, but Gilman's interpretation is full of tension and sometimes suggests an avant-garde influence. Brown is showcased extensively in the exciting closer, appropriately named "Curtain Time." Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden