"This album of music performed so superbly by Bobby Militello, Michael Moore and Randy Jones closely reflects the kind of program the quartet gives in concerta mix of the familiar and the new, in what we hope you will find to be a stimulating brew (no pun intended) recorded live at Starbucks." Dave Brubeck, from the liner notes
Jazz has always been one of those simple yet sophisticated pleasures in life. So has coffee. Maybe that's why the two go together so well.
Following up on the Ray Brown Trio's highly acclaimed Live at Starbucks in 2001, Telarc serves up another steaming and satisfying cup in the Live at Starbucks series with the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Park Avenue South. As the title suggests, the album was recorded in an intimate evening session in front of an exclusive audience in a Starbucks coffeehouse on Park Avenue in Manhattan in July 2002. Despite the highly unconventional setting, the album is "a mix of the familiar and the new" from one of the most influential jazz pianists of the last half century and his talented crew.
"Throughout my years with Telarc I have recorded in many different situations," says Brubeck in the liner notes. "Live in a night club, in a cathedral, in concert halls, and of course, in several different studios. The experience of recording on Park Avenue in Manhattan at a Starbucks coffeehouse was something unique and a challenge for musicians and sound engineers alike."
All acoustic, atmospheric and engineering issues aside, the final product is on a par with Brubeck's other fine Telarc recordings of the past decade. The opening track, "Sunny Side of the Street" is tailor-made for bleary-eyed commuters seeking that first cup of high-octane java when the doors open at 6 am. Other well known standards include "Love for Sale," "Love Is Just Around the Corner" and "Slow Boat To China."
In addition to the standards, Brubeck also serves up a few original compositions, including the poignant "Elegy," a piece written for and dedicated to the memory of Randi Hultin, a Norwegian jazz critic and a longtime friend of Brubeck who died of cancer before she could actually hear the quartet perform it. On the lighter side is "Crescent City Stomp," an ode to New Orleans with an infectious mix of melody, harmony and backbeat that reflects the rich musical and cultural tapestry of the Big Easy.
Also from the Brubeck pen come the easygoing "Don't Forget Me," inspired by a conversation with a longtime friend and associate, and the lighthearted "I Love Vienna," written on a train ride from Switzerland to Austria. A compelling rendition of "Take Five," the quartet's signature piece, carries just as much of a syncopated jolt as the original recording of more than forty years ago, and reminds us why Brubeck is still one of the most innovative jazz pianists of his generation.
Comfortable and stimulating at the same time, the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Park Avenue South is a place worth checking out. Jazz never tasted so good.