Dave Brubeck: Jump for Joy

Track

Jump for Joy

Artist

Dave Brubeck (piano)

CD

Happy Birthday Newport: 50 Swinging Years (Columbia/Legacy 89076)

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Musicians:

Dave Brubeck (piano), Paul Desmond (alto sax), Joe Benjamin (bass), Joe Morello (drums).

Composed by Duke Ellington

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Recorded: live at Newport Jazz Festival, RI, July 3, 1958

Albumcoverhappybirthdaynewport-50swingingyears

Rating: 86/100 (learn more)

As part of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival's salute to Ellington, the Dave Brubeck Quartet presented six tunes associated with the Maestro, plus Dave's own tribute "The Duke" (1954). The younger pianist was a natural choice to honor his idol. As a student in the early '40s, Brubeck had finagled his way backstage to meet the Duke, but was so awestruck in the Maestro's presence that he couldn't utter a word. Ironically, by the time of this recording, Brubeck's fame rivaled Ellington's. Indeed, Dave's 1954 breakthrough on the cover of Time magazine predated Duke's belated appearance in that coveted spot by two years—much to the chagrin of Brubeck, who insisted Duke deserved the honor first.

Dave's set kicked off with the title tune from Ellington's flop 1941 musical revue. Considering that "Jump for Joy" was not in their regular repertoire, the Quartet's awkwardness is understandable. Desmond in particular seems ill at ease, producing an occasionally herky-jerky solo lacking the luster of silk-merchant Johnny Hodges on Duke's original. Brubeck, perhaps because of his deeper feeling for Ellington, better conveys the spirit of "Jump for Joy." Eugene Wright, by this time the Quartet's steady bassist, was for some reason replaced here by Joe Benjamin. Not to fault the latter, but he does not jell with drummer Joe Morello the way Wright did, much less the way Duke's rhythm team of Jimmy Blanton and Sonny Greer meshed. Overall, this track is a congenial tribute to Ellington, but unrepresentative of the 1958 Brubeck Quartet at its finest.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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