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Venue: The Royal Derngate Theatre, Northampton
Timeline: 7.30, Wednesday, 16th November 2011
Darius Brubeck, piano
Dave O’Higgins, alto and soprano saxes
Chris Brubeck, bass guitar and trombone
Dan Brubeck, drums
So influential has been Dave Brubeck’s futuristic and eclectic forging of compositions with vastly differing time signatures and jazz modes that one could have forgiven The Brubecks for focussing on a purely revivalist evening.
Not a bit of it. While the styles and sounds of his eldest son, Darius, clearly emerge from Brubeck senior, the Brubeck brothers have a unique sound of their own that sits comfortably with today’s contemporary jazz.
The ‘hits’ were all there, of course - Take Five, Raggy Waltz, Unsquare Dance, Blue Rondo a la Turk, but absent were the characteristic tones of Paul Desmond, always melodic, even if tinged with pathos. Instead, to the fore arose the assured, combative, yet subtle, alto and soprano saxes of Dave O’Higgins, with his own special interpretations. His solo performance on Koto Song was sublime.
But, arguably, the group was at its most potent when playing its own numbers. Darius’ composition, The Lion at the Bar, was a compelling mix of jazz, rock and even boogie, and was probably the outstanding number of the evening.
The rhythm section was equally creative. Although his primary instrument is the trombone, Chris Brubeck’s offerings were those of a formidable exponent of the bass guitar, while Dan Brubeck’s drum solo on Take Five was a stupendously explosive ten minute exploration of polyrhythmic improvisation.
Dave Brubeck, now in his 90s, would have been proud.