Dave Brubeck: Koto Song
Dave Brubeck (piano)
Buried Treasures (Columbia/Legacy CK 65777)
Composed by Dave Brubeck.
Recorded: live in Mexico City, May 12-14, 1967
Rating: 99/100 (learn more)
Already popular out West, Dave Brubeck headed East – first to Oberlin, then NYC, and then Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Far East – all the way to Tokyo and Osaka, which eventually inspired the all-originals album Jazz Impressions of Japan. One exotic tune from it in particular became a regular feature for the quartet, and then Dave solo and beyond: his haunting and beautiful "Koto Song," which mimicked the sound of that multi-stringed, zither-like instrument made famous by earlier koto master Michio Miyagi and his disciple Kimio Eto (who recorded an album with Bud Shank on flute).
Brubeck's original was as delicate as a lily floating on a pond, or maybe more like petals on a gently flowing stream; later versions became a bit more robust. An arresting quartet performance appears on 1999's Buried Treasures (unreleased live tracks from a '67 tour of Mexico). Rippling piano (over toms for a moment) very quickly gives way to the airy almost-blues of Paul Desmond above a walking 4/4, the Orient left behind now, and Dave fallen silent for a time. But his piano flows back in, single-noting, slowing the tempo notably, the solo adrift somewhere between East and West … then a few cymbal hits announce a brief spate of patterns edging into dissonance … yet those are soon abandoned for the lovely demi-koto melody once more … and you realize that 7 minutes have passed like 3, and the twain was well met.
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher
Tags: 1960s jazz