Brubeck Brothers Quartet – LifeTimes (2012)

The bonds of family glide into place on LifeTimes, a splendid tribute to the music of Dave Brubeck presented by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet.

Featuring Chris (bass, bass trombone) and Dan (drums) Brubeck along with guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb, LifeTimes is an imaginative reworking of some of the elder Brubeck’s finest tunes.

Chris and Dan have performed with their father before a number of times, of course. Two Generations of Brubeck was one outlet, as was the New Brubeck Quartet. There was even a Trio Brubeck, which features songs like “Jazzanians.”
This, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet’s fourth release and first since Classified in 2008, brims with color and passion. The arrangements sparkle with love and excitement, the kind that comes out of playing music that means a lot on a number of levels.

[SOMETHING ELSE! APPRECIATION: We remember Dave Brubeck, the convention-defying pianist and composer of jazz standards like "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "The Duke," who passed in 2012 at age 91.]

Starting with “The Duke,” a piece that Dave recorded as a tribute to Duke Ellington, has been performed by a number of the biggest names in jazz. In the hands of the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, it takes on the unpredictable time signatures and the harmonic challenges with gusto. Lamb’s ivories draw up solid flourishes, while a series of solos gets everyone in on the picture.

“Kathy’s Waltz” was written for Dave’s only daughter for the album Time Out in 1959. In the hands of the brothers, it’s a gently textured waltz. DeMicco leads with elegant chording and the quartet delves in with yet another intricate time signature series that seems to gather some of its influence from reggae music. Its slight hop, guided by Dan’s careful drumming, keeps it swinging.

“Take Five,” the album’s closing number, was composed by Paul Desmond and probably stands as Dave’s most well-known number. Dan’s somewhat controversial decision to boot it off in a second-line New Orleans 5/4 pays dividends as the classic swings from pillar to post. The guitar and piano mesh guides the melody, while the shuffling drums drill it all home without an ounce of hesitation.

“Dave Brubeck’s music is rich with challenging chord progressions and beautiful melodies,” says Chris. “Dave is one of the biggest inspirations in all our lives and we all thought it was time to salute his compositions, adding the BBQ’s fresh approach to some of his most enduring tunes.”

These brilliant, brave reflections of Dave Brubeck’s finest hours couldn’t have come from a better place. A sense of family and a sense of broad tradition permeates each number, crawling excellently through LifeTimes of remarkable music and calling hopefully ahead to ages more.

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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