EP-BrubeckJazzGallery— Preface —

This is a collage of comments regarding Dave Brubeck & Paul Desmond I’ve left over the years at my favorite (jazz) blog, namely at Doug Ramsey’s Rifftides.

I don’t consider these sketches giving a complete picture of Dave (I’d prefer to leave this effort to the jazz critics). 

These are subjective thoughts from a musician’s point of view, also those by a simple fan of the DBQ’s music (it may be obvious, dear readers, that I dig mostly the swingin’ sides of “The Fabulous Four”).

This article is rather meant as a personal tribute to the great artist, and human soul Dave Brubeck.

Let’s jump right in with one of my beloved musical comparisons:

DaveBrubeckQuartet_JazzGoesToJuniorCollege_Fontana_LP_aIn the obituary on Dave, I’ve posted two renditions of “I’m In A Dancing Mood”.

The first one was with Jack Leonard, singing the lightly swingin’ melody with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra in 1936, then we hear the very same number as played by the DBQ in 1962.

Now, it’s Bob Eberly’s turn to sing Herb Magidson’s & Allie Wruble’s The Masquerade Is Over with Tommy’s brother Jimmy on clarinet in 1939, before the Dave Brubeck Quartet takes over, but nearly 20 years later, ‘live’ at Junior College (this and all other tracks have been transferred from the original LP’s a.k.a. “vinyl albums”).

— Bulk —


That’s the very Dave Brubeck who made me shout out loudly “Swing it, Dave, swing it!”

You may know the verdict of some critics: DB doesn’t swing, probably due to too much knowledge, meaning too much brain involved. That may be partly true, since he tended to get a bit bombastic when building his improvisations, particularly in the later edition of the DBQ.

Bru: “Damn it, when I’m bombastic, I have my reasons. I want to be bombastic: take it or leave it!”
Brew: “OK, Dave, I’ll take it from now on. Nevertheless, as soon as your chords get too pompous for my taste, I’ll gladly focus on brother Paul’s lighter lines.”

Well, those critics became more and more silent since the elder statesman of jazz took over whilst the angry, or rather the ambitious young man with a message grew wiser with the years.

Other matter: But what about Clint Eastwood regarding sapience?Young_ClintEastwood_in_AwayAllBoats_1956

Let me add: There’s nothing wrong with some brain involved.

Most people with personal problems can’t face beauty when it suddenly appears before them, quasi out of the blue. Those critics (…) the fellows who wrote all the stupidities about Dave, Paul, Eugene, Joe and their playing, also the racists, they would go home, they would even be listening to their music; they have the problems, certainly not the musicians they’ve been trying to write down, or to ignore.

Those guys are merely writing, and talking about and to themselves anyway.

Dave Brubeck’s & Paul Desmond’s sounds will bless this earth forever. I strongly believe that there will be no single day in the future where at least one Dave-Brubeck-Quartet disc wouldn’t be spinning ’round on the radio, or in a dining room, or in a lover’s suite.

DaveBrubeckQuartet_TimeOut_original_aJust think about that: “Take Five”, “Far More Blue”, or “The Trolley Song” at the very same time in New York, Rio De Janeiro, Madrid, Berlin, Paris, London, Sydney, Rome, Moscow, or Tokyo… not to forget Toronto ;) . — Oh, I forgot Africa, China, and the Middle East—Tel Aviv, Cairo, Shanghai, Rabat, and Johannesburg…. it can happen any time.

The morons are so powerless.

Synchronicity is the magic word. Others call it good vibrations …like they’re coming from Kathy’s Waltz (transferred from the UK-pressing of “Time Out”, 1959).

In response to Terence Smith, a frequent & eloquent commenter at Rifftides:

You’re so right, Terence, I wonder what those critics would have written about Thomas Waller, that he would clown around too much?

There are so many ways to make a line, a song, a phrase swing.

For me, swing is not only a musical thing, it’s a way of living. It has something to do with love too. And with joy, and also with a feeling for romance; that’s what I thought first when I listened to Dave’s playing at the above video: He is a romantic besides being a jazz musician.

And our cold and materialistic, our mad, world needed some true romantics, all the better when they can swing a little, too.



Regarding that chemistry you’re talking about, it came to my knowledge that there is one more “Audrey” on the market:

Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond – At Free Trade Hall (1958).

Those sounds were never released before, and they represent the very first encounter of the “new” Dave Brubeck Quartet with Eugene Wright & Joe Morello.

In response to Darius Brubeck who also commented at Rifftides:

…and all of us (jazz) musicians thank your father Dave, and Paul Desmond for their highly inspiring musical, and last but not least *human* contributions to our culture.

DaveBrubeckQuartet_BossaNovaUSA_LP_aWhen I was 17, I didn’t know what a trolley was, and I had not the slightest idea what “modal playing” meant.

But I tirelessly tried to play along Paul’s lines.

Musicians: Do it, if you can play a horn, and you will get better in everything:


As PD would have said: “As long as I can hear what everybody’s doing, I don’t worry about scratches. It can be on a record, a tape or a strip of cellophane, for all I care. I listen to the music.”

Anyway, though I listened deeply – really, I did! – I couldn’t help it: Dave looks in this video like a swingin’ Ludwig van Beethoven.LudwigVanBeethoven

Here’s my own short paseo with Audrey, and her gorgeous twin sister.

 “Time Out” — “Giant Steps” — “Kind Of Blue” … all from 1959 … all directing towards…


But not “freedom of“, rather “freedom to” play in the (jazz) style you are feeling most comfortable.

Paul Desmond, “Diamond”, he was pure melody. — He was truly free. Though I have never met him, I miss him; I miss his clear, and incorruptible, honest voice. He *sang* on the sax like no one else did. — “Dial ‘D’ For Desmond” would have been a fitting title too. — But let’s not forget his sense of time & rhythm. Or, do you know anyone who could play the blues on “Blue Rondo À La Turk” like he did?

That’s one of the reasons why this tune hasn’t become a standard. — It’s so closely connected to Paul Desmond.


P.S. I forgot to mention the other stellar album, recorded also in 1959: Something Else.

It would belong to the very same category, as does the fifth of those groundbreaking 1959 sessions, Bill Evans’ famous trio album, which also started to question rhythmic, harmonic & melodic “rules” of “proper” jazz improvisations: Portrait In Jazz.

(“Fullerton Junior College”, Fullerton, Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 1957, original LP-track)

Thanks for putting up “my” blues. I have the LP (of course!) which is one of my favorite Brubeck-albums.DaveBrubeckQuartet_JazzGoesToJuniorCollege_original_a — They’re swinging so loosely here, as if anything could happen. — And there happens a lot!

So, Miles’ verdict that Paul couldn’t swing is clearly disproved with this one solo:

“Yeah, brother Paul, you *got* rhythm!”

Dave sounds quite Basie-ish here, doesn’t he? — How to play the blues? Just lean back, and listen to these masters, they will tell you how.


Paul Desmond was the very first saxophonist I have listened to as a teenager. His melodic concept was sophisticated, but nevertheless easy enough to comprehend for a 16-year old jazz beginner.

To recognize how trickily he actually has constructed his solos, this needed more mature, more experienced ears though.

There were times when I tried to imitate his and Stan Getz’s sounds on the trumpet. I still have some cassettes with one of my early jazz trios where you can clearly hear that. Sounds quite funny.

“For All We Know” is just beautiful, and Paul is sounding as seemingly effortless as ever.

By the way, this video is an excerpt from German TV, a concert with the Dave Brubeck Group, starring also Gerry Mulligan, at the Jazzfest Berlin. — Funny clothes then, huh?

R.I.P. Master Dave Brubeck

Your wonderful music will live on. You set an example for everyone who still thinks in categories. You were beyond all them, as the Duke would have put it.

Your lifelong fight against any kind of discrimination won’t be forgotten. I still vividly remember the story you’d told in an interview for Ken Burn’s Jazz film, and will gladly quote it here:dave-brubeck-seco-ranch-ione-ca-139

“Brubeck told Burns’ cameras that it was his father…who taught him as a very young boy about race in America. When a young Brubeck asked his father about the terrible scars he’d seen on the body of one of his father’s black ranch hands, his father explained the racist burning incident that caused them. And then he told his young son “this must never happen” again.”

Camptown Races – Bing Crosby & The King’s Men (1940).
Camptown Races – Dave Brubeck Quartet (1959).

The quote is from the Dave Brubeck obituary in the online edition of The Buffalo News.

Thanks for all the great music, Dave Brubeck. Your recordings will be played for the next hundred years and longer.

— A Musical Epi-Duologue by Dave & Paul —

Recorded ‘live’ on the “S.S. Rotterdam”, Holland, June 10, 1975:

You Go To My Head

Brubeck-Desmond - Duos

All comments have been posted originally here, at Doug Ramsey’s comprehensive, first hand online articles at Rifftides:

Paul Desmond, 33 Years Later

Query: The Jazz Goes To Junior College Car

Paul Desmond: 35 Years

Encore: A Little Blues With Brubeck And Desmond

Dave Brubeck Is Gone

On Dave Brubeck

Shopping list with the CD albums where you can find the above tracks (but I would – as usual – strongly recommend to go for the analogue vinyl LP’s):

Dave Brubeck Quartet – Jazz Goes To Junior College (1957)
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out (1959)
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Bossa Nova USA (1962)
Iola & Dave Brubeck, Carmen McRae, Louis Armstrong, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross:
The Real Ambassadors (CD, 1961)
Note: “You Swing Baby a.k.a. The Duke” (NYC, September 13, 1961) is from a Book-Of-The-Month Louis Armstrong 4-LP’s-compilation with hitherto unreleased tracks.LouisArmstrong_BookOfTheMonth_Box_4_LPs

Dave Brubeck & Paul Desmond – The Duets (1975)
Dave Brubeck’s Greatest Hits – (various dates, compilation)

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