DAVE BRUBECK — Jazz Impressions of New York

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DAVE BRUBECK - Jazz Impressions of New York cover
4.02 | 4 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1965

Filed under Cool Jazz


A1 Theme From "Mr. Broadway" 2:25
A2 Broadway Bossa Nova 3:15
A3 Autumn In Washington Square 5:27
A4 Something To Sing About 3:52
A5 Sixth Sense 6:55
A6 Spring In Central Park 2:27
B1 Lonely Mr. Broadway 4:20
B2 Summer On The Sound 2:40
B3 Winter Ballad 2:45
B4 Broadway Romance 5:50
B5 Upstage Rumba 3:10


Dave Brubeck / piano
Paul Desmond / alto saxophone
Joe Morello / drums
Eugene Wright / bass

About this release

Columbia – CS 9075 (US)

recorded 1964, New York City

Thanks to Chicapah for the addition and snobb for the updates


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I’ve always harbored a special affection for the music of Dave Brubeck and always will. If one was to ask me “What does jazz sound like?” I could direct them towards most any of his albums with confidence for he is a trustworthy ambassador of the cause. In the 50s and 60s, when my musical tastes were being developed, catching the Dave Brubeck Quartet on variety shows like Ed Sullivan’s was the only exposure I got to the idiom known as jazz. It certainly wasn’t heard on the AM radio in my parents’ car and definitely not played around the house so TV was the only medium that could deliver it to my ears. Yet, despite the expansion of my jazz vocabulary exponentially over the decades to the point where I’m semi-fluent in a myriad of jazz categories, I can’t think of another artist in the genre whose sound is more distinct and satisfying. I’ve never heard anything so similar that it caused me to wonder if it was Brubeck or not because nothing and no one else sounds like him or his talented little band. His art is instantly recognizable and his music always touches in a reassuring way a very basic part of my psyche. I’ve never been disappointed by any of his records and “Jazz Impressions of New York” is no exception.

Speaking of television, when Dave was approached by Robert Israel in ’64 to write original music for a new series on CBS called “Mr. Broadway” he hesitated because of his unfamiliarity with what taking on such a project would involve. TV scores were not his forte. However, when he was given full rein to compose without restrictions, he saw it as another opportunity to grow and to allow the jazz influences that would be involved to reach into yet another (and massive) audience. According to Brubeck, “My assignment was to capture the rhythm and atmosphere of New York City. I got carried away and wrote enough material for several record albums. For this disc we selected those themes which we considered best suited for development by the Quartet.” While the show itself has long since faded into oblivion, the music lives on forever as will Brubeck and his combo’s regal legacy.

“Theme from ‘Mr. Broadway’” is presented atop an upbeat waltz, successfully conveying an attitude of cavalier, masculine confidence as Paul Desmond’s alto sax and Dave’s piano carry on a spirited conversation peppered with moments of exuberant joy. “Broadway Bossa Nova” is, naturally, a cool and sophisticated tune emitting an undeniable air of casual elegance. Desmond was so one-of-a-kind. I could listen to his soothing, graceful tone all day long. Brubeck’s piano work on this song is extremely light and cheerful. One cut that sticks out in particular is “Autumn in Washington Square.” It begins as a solo piano piece wherein Dave’s haunting melody is as beautiful and melancholy as the sight of falling leaves. When Paul enters it’s a revelation and the famous rhythm section of Joe Morello and Eugene Wright contributes their magic so delicately they’re like soft phantoms hovering in the colorful trees. “Something to Sing About” is bouncy and playful, the group swinging along with a carefree swagger. Morello’s drums are downright delicious as he lays down a solid foundation with his signature subtle passion that’s uncanny. He was a true master of his craft.

“Sixth Sense” is another highlight. Its simple melody line establishes a sneaky, sleuthing aura in a tune that’s cleverly based upon major and minor sixths. Dave’s piano ride is absolutely mesmerizing and you’d think things couldn’t possibly get any better until Paul jumps in and takes it to another level altogether! It’s an amazing seven minutes of top shelf jazz. “Spring in Central Park” roars in like the proverbial lion and the number gives the fitting impression of swirling breezes and, poignantly, of invigorating rebirth dawning once again in the urban community. “Lonely Mr. Broadway” is next and its demeanor is lonesome only in the sense that it’s as if everyone else in town has called it a night but the members of the Quartet so they’re playing on for the unadulterated love of creating music. For “Summer on the Sound” Joe opens it up with a dizzying flurry of brush strokes and the overall tightness of the track that follows is staggering. By this time in their career these guys knew exactly how each other thought so they were able to present a unified front that is unsurpassed seemingly without effort.

“Winter Ballad” is not the stark, cold song you’d expect. Rather, it’s an inventive one that implies that snow, sleet and blustery skies don’t slow down or impede the constant hustle and bustle of Gotham one bit. The city that never sleeps is always wide awake. On “Broadway Romance” Brubeck’s impressionistic piano chordings set up a classy tableau for Desmond to paint his emotional, heartfelt and romantic scenes and scenarios upon with his saxophone. Wright never ceases to impress me with his innate ability to compliment every note perfectly from below. The closer, “Upstage Rumba,” is a spectacular track augmented by the spontaneous combustion supplied by most everyone in or adjacent to the studio contributing to the ambience while Dave attacks the piano with unbridled enthusiasm. According to Brubeck, “Paul surprised us by making his debut on a bass marimba left behind from a Latin band session, my brother Howard was shaking some sort of cylindrical drum with BBs in it, John Lee (a friend of Joe’s) played on Morello’s tom-tom and our producer Teo Macero was on claves until he dropped them at the end of the piece (which I consider a final stroke of upstage chicanery).” The excitement the whole crew generated is palpable and invigorating.

To my knowledge Dave Brubeck never made an inferior album. If he did I have yet to hear it. His music is a treat to hear and always pleasantly nostalgic in that it takes me back to a more innocent period in my life when I thrilled to the discovery over and over how jazz (in Dave’s hands, anyway) could somehow be high-brow and intellectual but still be earthy and relatable at the same time. In many ways that sums up “Jazz Impressions of New York” because, as intimidating as the towering skyscrapers and grandiose architecture of that metropolis may be, it’s still filled with people just like you and me.

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