Drooling on the Pillow

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Take Five 

I picked up a curious CD at the garage sale for Grace's charter school. Curious in a curious way. It's called Private Brubeck Remembers. The second disc is a series of interview tracks with an 83-year old Dave Brubeck talking to Walter Cronkite about his childhood, going off to the war, coming home and getting started. He sounds like a very sweet man, with a kind of cowboy, or at least countrified accent. He's a guy who describes someone cussing him out by saying "blankity-blank".

The first disc is solo piano of the tunes he associates with the times he describes on the second disc. "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To", "For All We Know", "We Crossed the Rhine" (a song he wrote watching the pontoon bridges being built), "Lili Marlene". While the sensibility of his playing is entirely conventional, it's an absorbing performance. There are jazz licks, but they are absorbed in romance and disciplined with effortless musicianship. His dynamics are thrilling, if such a thing could be said of dynamics. He keeps time independently with each hand, but in such a casual, unobtrusive way that, while you notice it, it doesn't distract. In fact, what he seems to be doing, beyond a memory exercise, is honoring the composers and placing their music in the context of the time of their creation. What more is memory? Honor, context, creation. It feels like you wandered into a cocktail lounge in Helena, Montana and a guy starts to play and you sit there till four because he plays better than you could imagine doing anything.
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