Brubeck On The Beeb

YouTube has posted a few excerpts from programs the Dave Brubeck Quartet did for BBC television in 1964. The musical and the black and white video quality are superb. In the first one, I am struck by Brubeck’s delicacy at the keyboard and by the fullness of Paul Desmond’s alto saxophone sound. The critic Steve Race was the program host.

Race interviews Brubeck leading into a feature for bassist Eugene Wright. In the discussion, Brubeck earnestness and shyness are as noteworthy as Wright’s playing. One other point: Desmond used to speak with enthusiasm about Brubeck’s skill and sensitivity as an accompanist. In “The Wright Groove,” Brubeck’s comping behind Wright’s solo is evidence of what Paul was talking about.

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  1. Scott Magill says

    In “The Wright Groove,” I hear a quote of Jimmy Blanton from Ellington’s great bass feature, “Jack the Bear.” It begins around 3:37. I wonder how much of an influence Blanton was on Wright. I read an interview with Ray Brown saying he learned to play by playing along with Ellington/Blanton records and another interview with Percy Heath saying he wouldn’t talk to a young bass player if he/she didn’t know about Jimmy Blanton.

  2. says

    You mentioned the BBC broadcasts and the “critic” and presenter Steve Race. Race was actually a pretty competent pianist and arranger. I was at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London the night Roland Kirk (who Race had critised in print as being a bit of a circus act)invited Race (who was in the audience) to sit in with him on piano. Race did so with much hesitation, especially when resident pianist Stan Tracey on giving up his place at the piano said to Race “by the way from here to here”, indicating an octave on the keyboard, “doesn’t work too well”. Race actually played competently but was rather overawed by the occasion.
    Incidentally the BBC, who never did or does broadcast very much jazz on its channels, at least had and has professional musicians as hosts on the few programs it does put out.

  3. Hal Strack says

    I certainly agree with Doug Ramsey about the relative richness of Paul Desmond’s playing, as well as the gentility and delicacy of Dave’s piano work. They all play together with restraint and care for the contribution of each to the whole of the effort. It has been my observation that Dave is at his very best when he seemingly reflects greater sensitivity, grace and stylistic simplicity than is his wont in occasionally more ponderous moments. These clips are excellent examples of the quartet at their “low-key”, contemplatively integrated best.