1. The Duke
2. One Moment Worth Years
3. Bossa Nova USA
4. Summer Song
5. Blue Rondo Á La Turk
6. Strange Meadowlark
7. In Your Own Sweet Way
8. Weep No More
9. When I Was Young
10. Theme For June
11. Home At Last
Alan Broadbent piano
Harvie S bass
Hans Dekker drums
London Metropolitan String Orchestra.
Jazz Wax - Marc Myers ©
A tribute album to Dave Brubeck isn't about emulating Dave. It also isn't about interpretation. To hit the bull's eye, you have to capture Dave's spirit—his broad smile, his post-war optimism and his sunny, sophisticated feel, which is purely emotional. Either you get it or you don't. Having spent an afternoon on assignment with Dave in 2010 watching the creek that rushed past his home and into a lake, I totally get that spirit. So does pianist-arranger Alan Broadbent. [Photo above of Alan Broadbent at Abbey Road Studios]
Released today is Broadbent Plays Brubeck (Eden River). It features Alan at the piano with bassist Harvie S and drummer Hans Dekker backed by the London Metropolitan String Orchestra. Alan wrote the arrangements and conducted. For the album, Alan chose 11 songs. Ten are by Dave and one—Theme for June—is by Howard Brubeck, Dave's older brother. The 10 songs by Dave are The Duke, One Moment Worth Years, Bossa Nova USA, Summer Song, Blue Rondo a la Turk, Strange Meadowlark, In Your Own Sweet Way, Weep No More, When I Was Young and Home at Last. I would have loved if Alan had included Nomad, my favorite, but that's a quibble.
Alan's playing is fluid and breezy, playing all of the material at just the right tempo and with just the right feel. The Duke, for example, is often played solely with swing when in fact it should have a slight lurch. When he wrote the song, Dave heard the melody while listening to the loud, metronome-like quality of the windshield wipers on his Kaiser Vagabond driving his kids to school. Alan gets The Duke just right. The same goes for Strange Meadowlark's meandering groove and In Your Own Sweet Way's fragile innocence. [Photo above of Dave Brubeck]
Theme for June was new to me. The classical-jazz piece was originally part of a larger work called Dialogues for Jazz Combo & Orchestra, first played by the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in 1960 and released a year later on Bernstein Plays Brubeck Plays Bernstein. [Photo above and below of Alan Broadbent and the London Metropolitan Strings]
Alan's first musical exposure to Brubeck came in 1961 when he was 14. Alan came across Howard Brubeck’s transcriptions of the music Dave Brubeck played on Brubeck Plays Brubeck in two volumes at a music store in his native Auckland, New Zealand. By then, Alan had already heard the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Take Five on the radio but had no idea how the songs he was holding were supposed to be played. Alan didn't have Brubeck Plays Brubeck (1956) and wouldn't have found it in his remote town. A good sight reader even then, Alan began to play the pieces as written.
Broadbent Plays Brubeck is a breezy joy and a marvelous introduction to the Dave Brubeck Quartet, if you're unfamiliar. I'll be re-listening to Dave's music all day today as a result of Alan's album. Most fascinating is how Alan arranged the orchestra so his piano would nest neatly in the strings when overdubbing the trio. The strings aren't so much a backgrounder as another instrument the trio converses with on these songs. The interchanges are wonderful.
I know Alan captured Dave's spirit because I grew dewy-eyed while listening to the album yesterday. It took me back to my Wilton, Ct., visit as I traced the lines on Dave's sun-drenched face with my eyes as he watched that lake with intensity and love. You'll feel his spirit, too, listening to Alan Broadbent's new album