Live shows from long ago… Dave Brubeck Quartet

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Wellington Town Hall, New Zealand

In Touch, March 1980

GARY STEEL was a complete novice when he reviewed Brubeck way back in 1980. He apologises profusely.

Brubeck and Co played a friendly, undemanding set of old and new to a devoted assemblage of fans. Any outstanding virtuosity was well hidden. Pianist Brubeck played in his usual, instantly recognisable, simplistic (by jazz standards) block-chording style.

Jerry Bergonzi on tenor sax played with fire, a much more hard-hatted bebop manner than the late Paul Desmond, but his sound (the PA’s?) was fuzzy and indistinct around the edges.

Dave’s son Chris played assured, somewhat imaginative bass, and really stole the show with several beautifully exact trombone solos.


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I’m told that Butch Miles’ drum technique is astonishing, though this layman failed to comprehend. I’d rather listen to Bill Brown.

The quartet’s song choice spanned several decades, from the evergreen ‘Take Five’ and ‘St Louis Blues’ to the more modern ‘Tritonis’. But they still seemed confined, claustrophobically so, within the limits of their stylisations.

I got the feeling that the man had found his niche, his audience, and he wasn’t about to spread out and experiment in any direction. And at 59, understandably so.

Brubeck’s quartet played safe, but admirably. There was genuine good feeling about, and musicians and the audience were wearing wide smiles.

  • If anyone remembers the exact date of this show please let us know!



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