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January/February 2003

Dave Brubeck Quartet
Jazz at the College of the Pacific (Volume 2)
Fantasy Records

Volume Two presents for the first time all the performances from the 1953 concert that didn't make it onto the famous first volume, which was released back then. And since these performances are anything but second tier, one can only surmise that the reasons they were left over were the usual LP time constraints plus the fact that they include some of the same arrangements that had appeared on Jazz at Oberlin earlier that year.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet plays with great spirit and inventiveness, and altoist Paul Desmond is in top form. Desmond's beautiful tone is at its purest and his ideas seemingly inexhaustible. His ability to take a short phrase and juxtapose it over the moving harmonies for several measures is on full display, as is his penchant for wittily fitting quotes from such disparate sources as "Don't Be That Way" and Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" into his improvisations. And he never swung harder. Brubeck's unique, classics-influenced style was well-set by then and his solos, too, overflow with invention. With the exception of a superb rendition of the ballad "Stardust," all the selections are taken at medium-fast to fast tempos, with bassist Ron Crotty and drummer Joe Dodge, who was making his debut with the quartet, anchoring the proceedings admirably.

This one's a real find.

Originally published in January/February 2003
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