Brubeck Editions announces the release of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Live From The Northwest, 1959, a collection of unearthed recordings by the Dave Brubeck Quartet in their prime
CD RELEASE: November 3, 2023
RECORD STORE DAY EXCLUSIVE LP + DIGITAL RELEASE: November 24, 2023
Brubeck Editions is thrilled to announce the release of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Live From The Northwest, 1959. This collection of recordings from two electrifying concerts is a celebration of the iconic quartet’s singular sound and stellar output in the 1950’s. The legendary Mr. Brubeck’s pianistic refrains dance with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond’s fluid melodic invention, and the steadfast rhythm section made up of bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello offers the perfect balance of support and rhythmic invention. The album will be released as a CD on November 3, and on November 24, will be available digitally, and as a special edition Record Store Day LP.
In early April 1959, sound engineer Wally Heider packed his Ampex 350-2 tape recorder in his station wagon and headed to Portland, Oregon to create some of the very first high-quality remote recordings of the classic Dave Brubeck Quartet. Audiences were falling in love with the group because of their fresh sound, their incomparable musicianship, and an astonishing proclivity to improvise contrapuntal passages spontaneously. This was just months before the rhythmic invention and hallmark sound of the quartet’s historic Time Out took the world by storm. The rhythmic innovation and unprecedented success of Time Out, recorded only four months later, eclipsed the Quartet’s signature mastery of spontaneous counterpoint that had fascinated their audience in the 50’s; but on Live from the Northwest, 1959, their unprecedented skills are gloriously evident. What Wally Heider captures on this release are two performances that embody the very sound of the Dave Brubeck Quartet that audiences first fell in love with – lightning in a bottle.
Recorded on April 4, 1959 at the historic Multnomah Hotel in Portland and on April 5th in the auditorium at nearby Clark College, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Live from the Northwest, 1959 features all four band members in peak form. The Multnomah tapes put you in the “best seat in the house” vibe of an intimate late ‘50’s jazz venue and invites you to absorb the environment and the marvelous music. The Clark College tracks are brilliantly played and presented in pristine concert hall acoustics. It is a testament to Heider’s engineering skills that there is a wonderful sonic quality that unifies the soundscape of the two venues.
“When The Saints Go Marching In”, the album’s first track, will be the first single scheduled for digital release on October 13, 2023. This is the only known recording of this jazz anthem by the “classic” Quartet. It is a hard-swinging romp through the old standard which energizes the stage with high-flying solos. Darius Brubeck describes this track as “a master class in rhythm section unanimity with solos that cruise joyfully at a fast tempo.” Dave Brubeck plays with a light and nimble touch that evokes Count Basie. You can hear him inviting Paul back in for the final “head out” before they burst into a Bach-like impromptu duet that dances around the chord changes. Gene and Joe provide the solid foundation which enables Paul and Dave to let their ideas soar. As Matt Brubeck observes “one hopes bassists will note how much variation there is in Wright’s walking lines. Even with relatively short forms such as “Saints” and “Basin Street,” Wright is constantly improvising, rarely repeating himself.”
“Basin Street Blues” is the second single scheduled for digital release on October 27, 2023. On this take, you can hear that the Quartet is in that special state-of-mind where the solos are relaxed and exploratory. Chris Brubeck says “Paul’s solo is grounded in a more traditional approach but you hear him pushing the harmonic envelope during his excursions. Dave is singing along with his solos, achieving a musical unity between his imagination and his fingers, which I know from having played hundreds of performances with him, is a rare place for him to be as a performer. On this stage, on this night, he and the band are deep in The Zone.”
“These Foolish Things” is a bonus track appearing on only the CD and digital releases. The recording showcases Desmond’s unrivaled lyricism. Dave always considered himself a composer who happens to play jazz piano and you can hear the inspired orchestrational nature and arc of his solo in response to Paul’s improvised melodies. Eugene adds a solo demonstrating he is more than a “meat and potatoes” bassist and capable of being technically nimble when appropriate. Gene and Joe are the ultimate team players. On the next offering from Clark College, you can also hear the great Morello content to play brushes and a supportive role under Paul’s facile solo on “Gone with the Wind.” Dave’s whimsical piano improvisation on this tune reveals Joe’s reactive and intuitive playing. This can be heard when Dave quotes “Anything Goes,” warning Joe that he’s about to stretch his rhythmic phrasing.
“The Multnomah Blues”, the CD’s second bonus track and final single, due for release on November 10, 2023, was recorded at a venue in the popular Multnomah Hotel, kicking off the final set of the night. As you can hear, the audience and the Quartet are sounding loose and happy. Paul’s solo on this blues is typically innovative. Joe is on sticks, anticipating and accenting phrases to propel the piano explorations. Again, one hears Dave’s chords voicing the Big Band he is hearing in his head. Gene, Joe and Dave are “digging in,” yelling encouragement across the bandstand to each other. Dave sets up Joe for drum trades where, as Dan Brubeck says, “Joe displays his creativity, humor and amazing technique.” Coming out of this deep Blues exploration, Paul re-enters and the Quartet manages to weave in another contrapuntal exchange as they work their way to the ending.
“Two Part Contention” is an original piece by Dave Brubeck that made its debut on his solo piano LP Brubeck Plays Brubeck in 1956. In this Quartet version, the counterpoint intentions of the composition are revealed immediately. The extended and elaborate arrangement is designed to let the group explore the melody and changes like a theme and variations form often found in the Classical world. The Clark College audience is fascinated and happy to go on this long ride with the group. The elegant acoustics of the auditorium provide an invitation for the Quartet to play their sensitive and sparse arrangement of “The Lonesome Road.” Music at its core is an art form where the performers are telling a story to engage the audience. Upon hearing this performance, Darius wrote: “The development is like Beethoven would have done it, the story-arc is there right through growth, a busy life and the funeral march towards the end and the ending itself.”
The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Live From The Northwest, 1959 affords listeners the experience of enjoying the “best seat in the house” at two exceptional performances by Brubeck’s iconic Quartet during the very height of its synergy and exploration. This is an amazing recording by the legendary Wally Heider that captures the Quartet at the peak of their swinging, contrapuntal era.
This is the third release from Brubeck Editions, the official label of the Brubeck family. Previous releases include Time OutTakes (2020) and Live From Vienna 1967 (2022). Every release is proudly and meticulously edited, mixed and remastered, and issued on 180 gram vinyl, and on CD and digital formats.
When the Saints Go Marching In (6:38)
Basin Street Blues (6:43)
These Foolish Things (7:14) – BONUS track for CD/Digital
Gone With the Wind (8:10)
Multnomah Blues (8:40) – BONUS track for CD/Digital
Two Part Contention (11:45)
The Lonesome Road (7:38)