This is Dave Brubeck’s final album – released just now, but recorded a decade ago. It’s a set of charming-enough lullabies, the real weight of them can be measured by the wait I guess – and the timing now of release; early next month it is the jazz legend’s centenary so a decision was obviously made back in 2010 to leave this in the can for the big date. He died, aged 91 (a day before his 92nd birthday even) in 2012.
There are some original pieces included here, which are nice enough, but the lullaby theme is best represented by the tried and true. So the album opens with the Brahms Lullaby which is well handled of course. And then Louis Armstrong’s When It’s Sleepy Time Down South which has Brubeck adding just a tiny swagger of New Orleans-y feel.
Sometimes these little musical cups of warmed milk feel somewhat overheated, a florid Danny Boy seems way too much but of course the likes of Over The Rainbow and Summertime hit the spot. Even if we’ve heard them many dozens of times, or is it precisely because of that?
The solo piano setting was a place where Brubeck found himself in his later years particularly – he made some very fine albums on his own. Nothing that matched his early success, but plenty that showed his true skills as a pianist and answered the critics that thought he might have been propped up by the composing genius of Paul Desmond and the syncopated dexterity of drummer Joe Morello.
Lullabies won’t win new fans but its very existence is part of the charming tale – and a reminder to pay tribute to Dave Brubeck on his upcoming 100th birthday; it’s also a rather lovely set of piano instrumentals and a time-capsule of sorts.
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