Following the 1970s recording “Two Generations of Brubeck,” and the more recent “Quiet as the Moon” with son Darius (also on MusicMasters), Brubeck sat down with other sons Chris and Dan for his first trio work in some time.
It’s terrific, even if the sound was rounder than you might have expected — primarily because Chris Brubeck played electric bass and, occasionally, bass trombone. That gave the record a bright bottom end.
“Bossa Nova USA” provided the best example of Chris’s guitar-like bass work, something both melodic and pleasantly swooning. I’m happy to report, too, that the standard “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” still retained a welcome, almost boozy melancholy.
Dan Brubeck, meanwhile, is a knee-slappingly propulsive drummer — and a relevation throughout “Trio Brubeck.” He expertly moved from sensitive brush work early on to the coiled, Eastern feel of “Calcutta Blues” (actually, he played a squeeze drum there) to the forth-right stick work on “Jazzians.”
Inspired and named after a South African jazz group that Darius Brubeck brought to the U.S. in the late 1980s, “Jazzians” was actually the most surprising cut of all — forceful and hard-grooving in a way not expected from Brubeck. (Dad, that is.) Dave has rarely been in finer form than on this one, employing a brilliant two-hand polyrhythm.
Dave’s original “Autumn” from “Trio Brubeck” was Grammy-nominated, too.
The only stumble came forgiveably late, even if it was on the best-known chestnut of “Trio Brubeck”: “Someday, My Prince Will Come,” which finished the album. Revved up to a nearly annoying pace, the song felt graceless — something unthinkable in the wake of Miles Davis’ unspooled, and definitive, reading.