Reference: FSRCD 557
These performances by the Dave Brubeck quartet recorded in 1958 during the opening night of Newports Jazz Festival, are an impressive tribute to Dukes music, and among the very best of the Brubeck quartet offerings. His undeniably individualistic piano is strong, assertive and imaginative, while Paul Desmond is eloquence personified, his playing full of the subtlety and taste for which he was rightly celebrated, everywhere lyrical, beautifully conceived, liquid in tone, and utterly relaxed in execution. Joe Morellos impeccable taste and invention in support and as a soloist underlines how valuable he was to the Brubeck quartet. And, with Joe Benjamin, he is part of a thoroughly relaxed rhythm section.
In addition to these Newport sides, we can hear, for the first time on CD, Pilgrims Progress, a fine tune recorded live in Stratford, Ontario, in 1956. Though Pauls opening notes evoke memories of Without a Song, the basis of this long improvisation is actually a 9 minute 16 seconds long blues in the minor mode dedicated to PLAYBOYS favorite Playmate, Janet Pilgrim.
01. Things Aint What They Used To Be
02. Jump For Joy
04. The Duke
05. Liberian Suite Dance No.3
07. C Jam Blues
08. Pilgrims Progress (*) Bonus Track
Tracks #1-7 originally issued as Columbia CS-8082.
Paul Desmond (as), Dave Brubeck (p), Joe Benjamin (b on #1-7), Norman Bates (b on #8), Joe Morello (d on #1-7), Joe Dodge (d on #8).
"This 1958 set by the Dave Brubeck Quartet comes from the Newport Jazz Festival on a day which served as a tribute to Duke Ellington, with each band playing a set primarily drawn from Ellington's vast repertoire. Alto saxophonist Paul Desmond and drummer Joe Morello are in top form, as is bassist Joe Benjamin (who first worked with Ellington in 1951 and was his regular bassist from 1970 to 1974) who substitutes for Eugene Wright. The inspired choice of "Jump for Joy" makes for some of the most magical moments, while "Perdido" provides an extended workout for Desmond and Brubeck. "Liberian Suite Dance No. 3" is oddly described in the liner notes as coming from Black, Brown and Beige though it is actually one movement of Ellington's Liberian Suite, which was premiered in late 1947 and quickly dropped from his repertoire. Brubeck's "The Duke," an elegant tribute to Ellington that showcases Desmond's lyrical alto and the exciting finale of "C Jam Blues" (the latter spotlighting Morello are also highlights. "Take the 'A' Train", omitted from the album credits, is heard as a one chorus tag at the conclusion. It is a bit odd that several tracks were re-recorded several weeks later without explanation in the notes, evidently due to the audio problems which plagued Ellington's own set from that evening at Newport, though the applause is dubbed in at the conclusion of these selections. Long out of print, this somewhat rare LP has only been reissued on CD in Japan."
Ken Dryden -All Music Guide