Darius Brubeck Quartet - Sunday Evening
It may seem strange to begin a review with the last song, but it's worth noting as, even if you’re not a lover of jazz, it’s highly likely that you known the tune 'Take Five'. Written by Dave Brubeck’s sax player Paul Desmond, closing this quartet's set it was somewhat inevitable that this 5/4 jazz masterpiece would have to be played tonight. The crowd cheers as Darius Brubeck, son of Dave Brubeck, plays the instantly recognisable two chord piano riff. “It paid for my way through university” he remarks, as tenor saxophonist Dave O’Higgins played the famous melody, which has been covered and recorded by different artists all over the world and is the biggest–selling jazz single ever.
Although Darius and his fine musicians begin their set with 'Blue Rondo a’ La Turk' - another of his father's quirky classics - their show feels far from just being a tribute. Darius remarks that he once felt relieved when a reviewer suggested he should perform more of his own material. “I thanked him for his permission” remarks Darius, his father’s musical legacy never questioned, but one that could have perhaps burdened his own career as a performer and composer.
Seated at the piano stool, the resemblance to his father is quite uncanny, but the light jazz waltz of his own composition, 'Cathy’s Summer', has a spring in its step .This is cool, west coast sounding jazz, pleasant on the ear with a nice twist, as the drums build over Brubeck’s repeated latin riff.
Brubeck and his group look comfortable and at ease in their surroundings and are clearly delighted to be here tonight: “The whole building has jazz in it, which these days is very good for a jazz festival!” smiles Brubeck.
'Crete' is an atmospheric composition with Higgins switching to soprano, his sweet sound floats round the hall. There’s lots of space in the music, nothing is too cluttered, nothing too overplayed and the upright bass solo from Matt Ridley is well navigated. Another classy number from their album (also titled 'Cathy’s Summer') is the swinging 'Flippin’ The Bird' - a drum feature for Wesley Gibbens, his breaks sounding effortless, as the piano and sax unison melody above is engaging on the ears.
“We’ll now play another of my father’s tunes, sixty five covers of this song have been done!" remarks Darius before the band give a fine account of 'In Your Own Sweet Way'. A slower swing number, it was written by his father who apparently didn’t want to spend all day and evening just playing jazz standards and end up being known as a dinner type jazz figure.
The dramatic and colourful piano introduction to 'Flamingo' reminds me of the large pink full moon which is shining above this hall of great jazz. It’s one of my favourite standards. I’m more familiar with the slower interpretations done by legends such as trombonist Frank Rosolino and Stephane Grappelli but this version is refreshingly swung after the introduction, which suggested a ballad. Great solos by the ever imaginative O'Higgins and Brubeck - the latter as tasteful and melodic a pianist as his father was.
“I feel privileged to have been with this same group for many years” smiles Darius, as he introduces his group and the audience seemingly feels privileged to have been in their presence.
Two young ladies can’t resist the urge to dance as we return to where this review began, and 'Take Five' climaxes as a drum solo builds over the ever-hypnotic piano riff and feet tap naturally (in 5/4 time)across the floor.
“That was classy jazz, so soothing” is just one of the many favourable comments I hear later as I’m on the commute home in the tram lift. A wonderful set, fine jazz for an Autumn evening and the perfect tonic to take the edge off the pending Monday morning.