Next year, Chris and Dan Brubeck, sons of the iconic jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, will celebrate a remarkable two decades as leaders of the Brubeck Brothers Quartet. Over the course of four previous albums and performances all over the world, the group has artfully balanced paying homage to their famous dad and forging an innovative jazz legacy of their own. While their acclaimed 2012 release Lifetimes was fashioned as an overall tribute to Dave, their latest album, the expansive, globally conscious Timeline, is wrapped powerfully around a specific American moment in time. The album’s subtitle underscores the deeper story behind these deeply felt re-imaginings of seven Dave-penned classics and theme-related contributions by guitarist Mike DeMicco (“North Coast”) and pianist Chuck Lamb (“Boundward Home,” “Prime Directive”): Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Dave Brubeck’s Historic State Department Tour.
The quartet’s compelling liner notes detail how Dave’s quartet was recruited 60 years ago to be official “Jazz Ambassadors” for the 80 concert Eurasian tour designed to promote democracy and build cultural bridges during the height of the Cold War. The deeper artistic implications from Dave’s travels found the pianist inspired to write some of his most well-known tunes, often with exotic rhythms and time signatures.
This makes the famed “Blue Rondo a la Turk” – inspired by the street musicians of Istanbul – the perfect song to launch the new collection. It starts with Dan playing a hypnotic doumbek before pairing, call and response style with Lamb’s percussive piano lines. The tune races through multiple movements, chasing frenzy away with strutting cool. Other Dave classics, generally tackled with the cleverest of alternating rhythm schemes and featuring Dan’s fearless drum and percussion excursions include “Far More Blue,” “Since Love Had Its Way,” the frenetic and freewheeling “The Golden Horn” and “Tritonis,” taken out of its customary blues style and into a realm of sensual, sparkle and sway. Another fresh re-arrangement was turning Dave’s gentle “Thank You (Deziekuje),” composed after a visit to Chopin’s house, into a lighthearted piece with a bossa nova vibe, highlighted by Chris’ masterful bass trombone. Sixty years after Dave Brubeck embarked on the jazz adventure of a lifetime, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet tap into that inspiring wanderlust to further define an adventurous legacy of their own.