Monday, January 14, 2013

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Music from "West Side Story" and Other Works

I may not know that much about jazz, but I know that Dave Brubeck is the very knees of the bees. I bought this record because I was raised on Brubeck's awesomeness, and I also have a deep and abiding love of showtunes. This is actually one of two recordings I own which features a jazz great covering tunes from West Side Story (the other is Oscar Peterson, my other favorite jazz pianist). There's just something about these songs that makes them perfect for jazz explorations.

The A-side of this record actually features the "other works" mentioned on the record sleeve. It's a work which was originally featured on the record Bernstein Plays Brubeck Plays Bernstein entitled "Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra." The work was written by Dave Brubeck's brother Howard, and was performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet and the New York Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein conducting. It's an interesting work and certainly performed by the absolute best, but I still prefer the flipside of this record.

The B-side of the record features tunes from West Side Story. You really can't beat Brubeck's take on "Maria" and "Somewhere," the latter being one of the most beautiful jazz arrangements I have ever heard. The interplay between piano and saxophone in the beginning of the song almost brings tears to my eyes every time. It's one of the most moving pieces I have ever heard in any genre. While this record is not as essential as Time Out, it's still one of my very favorite jazz records, and a fine example of Brubeck's mastery of his instrument and the genre.

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