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Near-Myth - Album Cover

Label: Fantasy
Year: 1961
Released on LP: Yes
Released on CD: Yes


1. The Unihorn
2. Bach An' All
3. Siren Song
4. Pan's Pipes
5. By Jupiter
6. Baggin' The Dragon
7. Apollo's Axe
8. The Sailor And The Mermaid
9. Nep-Tune
10. Pan Dance


Dave Brubeck (piano)
Bill Smith (clarinet)
Joe Morello (drums)
Eugene Wright (bass)


1.Recorded March 1961.

2. All selections are composed by Bill Smith.


Concord Music Group

Near-Myth is a further collaboration between Bill Smith and Dave Brubeck, coming after Brubeck la Mode.

All ten compositions here are from Smith's pen and are connected in that notes, phrases, and even parts of the songs are used in other of these mythologically titled pieces. Smith's lucid clarinet is featured along with Brubeck's inventive piano, Gene Wright's beatful bass, and the uplift of Joe Morello's drums.

Smith and Brubeck had a special musical relationship, quite apart from the Desmond/Brubeck connection. As Brubeck says, "Near-Myth is a typical Smith concoction of humor, whimsy, classical references, and jazz."

All Music Guide Review copyright

This is the third and final guest appearance by clarinetist Bill Smith in the place of Paul Desmond with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Like the earlier record dates, this 1961 session focuses exclusively on Smith's compositions, resulting in a very different sound for the band than its normal mix of the leader's songs and standards. Smith was a member of Brubeck's adventurous octet of the late '40s and, like the pianist, also studied with French composer Darius Milhaud.

So the clarinetist is willing to take chances, utilizing a mute on his instrument in "Pan's Pipes," and having drummer Joe Morello use his timpani sticks on the piano strings in the swinging "The Unihorn." Smith proves himself very much in Desmond's league with his witty solos and equally amusing, pun-filled liner notes. While none of these songs became a regular part of Brubeck's repertoire, even after Smith replaced tenorist Jerry Bergonzi as a member of the quartet in 1982, this is easily the best of the three albums that he made with Dave Brubeck during the late '50s and early '60s.

Ken Dryden

Copyright Rovi Corporation

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