January 20, 2010

Classic Brubeck Quartet on Video

Jazz Icons: Dave Brubeck Live in '64 & '66Dave Brubeck Live in '64 and '66 is part of the Jazz Icons series of DVDs and presents two performances in Europe by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The is the classic quartet with Paul Desmond, Joe Morello, and Eugene Wright. The DVD lasts for 67 minutes, and the first half is a 1964 performance in Belgium. This is a beauty of a black-and-white film, just what you'd want a jazz performance to look like from the period. Very crisp - everything was shot on film back then, of course - with lots of close-ups of Dave's hands flicking over the ivories and Paul on sax. Paul was a very low-key performer, standing quietly with his eyes closed as he produced all those smooth-as-butter notes. Songs include "St. Louis Blues," "Koto Song," and "Take Five," with a terrific extended drum solo. (By the way, this video of "Take Five" can be downloaded separately on iTunes.) Paul's expressive playing is a standout, and Dave - often underrated as a piano player - shows his range from lyrical to percussive.
     The second date is from Berlin in 1966 and is filmed, again in black and white, in front of a live audience. There is some compromise in the sound quality here - a little muffled reverb in the background. Songs include "Take the A Train," "I'm in a Dancing Mood," "40 Days," and "Take Five" again. (Some of the songs from this set and the '64 date are available on YouTube.) This is a chance to see and hear the Brubeck Quartet in its heyday and in classic form.

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