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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



Marian McPartland’s


The Jazz Alliance TJA-12043-2



    1. Conversation
    2. St Louis Blues
    3. Conversation
    4. Thank You
    5. Conversation
    6. The Duke
    7. Conversation
    8. In Your Own Sweet Way
    9. Conversation
    10. One Moment Worth Years
    11. Conversation
    12. Summer Song
    13. Conversation
    14. Free Piece
    15. Conversation
    16. Polytonal Blues
    17. Conversation
    18. Take Five

Dave Brubeck and Marian McPartland – piano

Many of my fellow musicians don’t like this series of records and I don’t understand why. I have always been fascinated by the conversation of musicians, I think it’s to do with the nature of the work we do. Every time we go out to play, we are exhibiting ourselves and taking risks in a very public way, this gives us a different outlook on the world than most people.

Marion is a fine pianist herself and she so obviously commands the respect of the world’s greatest, when she talks with them. Dave Brubeck has to be one of these, the classic Dave Brubeck quartet with Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright and Joe Morello changed the course of jazz and I must confess to finding their recordings even more fascinating now than when I first heard them. Since those times many people have played unusual time signatures, but few sound convincing and almost none of them swing.

One of the tunes played here is Brubeck’s ‘The Duke’, often featured by other great pianists and a favourite composition of Oscar Peterson. It is not a tune for the enthusiastic amateur!

It is fascinating to hear Dave talk about people like Paul Desmond, who was a unique musician and a very interesting person. ‘In Your Own Sweet Way’, another of Brubeck’s compositions, was frequently played by Miles Davis who adapted the melody, so that there now exists two versions of the tune. Marian and Dave duet on it here. The Brubeck version of course!

Dave Brubeck was prepared to play his programme a different way every time, few of the jazz ‘greats’ do this, mostly they find a definitive version and stick to it. This accounts for the success of many ‘jam’ sessions; nobody knows what is going to happen! Both pianists feel that the live session often brings a more relaxed performance than the recording studio.

‘One Moment in Years’ is Brubeck’s acknowledgement of the contribution of Fats Waller to jazz and the duet with Marian is a delight.

Louis Armstrong recorded Summer Song and Marian McPartland plays it on the record as a solo feature.

Brubeck admits to a liking for the piano playing of Marian McPartland, for me it is easy to hear why that is, she is a very inventive player. They both take their artistic lives in their hands when they improvise a Free Piece, where they just see where the music leads them, it works better than I would have expected.

Polytonal Blues is a piece in two different keys at the same time which accounts for it’s quirky feel and is a typical piece of Dave Brubeck invention. Take Five which was written by Paul Desmond, takes us out with great style and it just amazing to think that twenty eight minutes of conversation and thirty six minutes of music have passed so quickly. May there be many more records released in this series.

Don Mather


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