Dan Brubeck, the drummer among Dave Brubeck’s five musician sons, took his own quartet into The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Washington, last night. As did his band’s recent album, the concert paid tribute to his father and to his mother, Iola, who wrote memorable lyrics to a number of her husband’s melodies. The quartet includes pianist Tony Foster, alto and tenor saxophonist Steve Kaldestad and bassist Adam Thomas.
Introducing the band, I mentioned Iola’s answer when I asked her years ago what Danny was like as a little boy. I recalled that she gazed into the distance, silent for a few seconds, then smiled and said, “Hell on wheels.” The audience saw and heard evidence in his solos on “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” “Jazzanians,” and especially on “Take Five,” that he retains that aspect of his personality. Playing to a substantial holiday weekend audience, the quartet poured energy and ebullience into those and other up-tempo pieces. On quieter numbers, Brubeck was lyrical in the use of wire brushes.
Bassist Thomas has a high, clear voice. Playing acoustic bass as he sang, he found the emotion in Iola’s words to “Weep No More,” the nostalgia in “Summer Song” and “Autumn in Our Town,” the razzle-dazzle in “It’s a Raggy Waltz,” the humor in “Ode to a Cowboy.” Foster’s keyboard technique and speed were impressive; so, too, his willingness to back off from technique and use expressive silence. On both of his horns, Kaldestad played with an original conception and, happily, moments when he seasoned his originality with references to the jazz canon. He made a double bow to Duke Ellington and John Coltrane with a quote from Ellington’s “Take The Coltrane.”
For a Rifftides review of the Dan Brubeck Quartet’s Live From The Cellar album, go here.