One of the founders of the West Coast cool jazz scene, Dave Brubeck was responsible for popularizing jazz with the college crowd and the white populace, which more often than not were one and the same. Among his Quartet’s many milestones are those early university tours and 1959’s seminal Time Out record.
- Jazz at Oberlin (1953) A
- On some nights, there is a certain magic in the air. It becomes palpable — only a select few live albums can make you feel like part of the crowd, as if you were there. The Quintet’s May 15th date in Toronto. Duke Ellington’s 7/7/56 set at Newport. And the Brubeck Quartet’s night at Oberlin College. The pianist’s wildly imaginative chords, coupled with Paul Desmond’s wispy, alto sax solos, finally gave white hipsters across the country something to write home about.
- Jazz Goes to College (1954) A-
- While lacking the magical coherency and continuity that made Jazz at Oberlin such a landmark success, Jazz Goes to College continues Dave Brubeck’s trailblazing winning streak. But instead of Brubeck’s blocky piano chords taking center stage, it is the smooth syncopation of Paul Desmond’s alto sax soloing that defines the Quartet. Greatest performance at the University of Michigan until the Fab Five, bar none.
- Brubeck Plays Brubeck (1956) A-
- Solo Brubeck is a welcome change of pace. After years of extensively touring the university scene, this is a record that returns Brubeck to his roots. Just a man and his piano. Yet this is far from a simple practice session — Brubeck Plays Brubeck displays an overwhelming depth of compositional and improvisatory talent.