Dave Brubeck: Tonight
Dave Brubeck (piano)
The Dave Brubeck Quartet Plays Music from West Side Story and … (Columbia CK 40455)
Composed by Leonard Bernstein.
Recorded: New York, February 14, 1960
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
The final word "and" of this album's original title indicates what's going on: the Brubeck Quartet performs only the four lovely ballads from Bernstein's musical, with non-West Side Story show tunes filling out the program. But these four allow Paul Desmond to arc his lazily lilting alto solos while Dave keeps staggering the rhythm the other guys work to make right.
In the play, "Tonight" is positioned as the second half (following "Maria") of the so-called "balcony scene" – albeit using a fire escape and the alley below – during which Tony and his newfound love sing of stopped time, morning stars, and other wonders. Desmond has a different message in mind; he quotes the tune at the very beginning and very end but otherwise wanders far, sounding acerbic rather than tender, and his glancing quotations are equally wry ("I Wish I Were in Love Again," maybe also "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"). Then Dave does his thing, skittering sideways against the section pull, lending his percussive mystery to this particular night of nights, the whole track clearly romance with an edge.
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher