The phone rang one day, as it does every few minutes, every day. My secretary told me that it was Dave Brubeck, calling from a phone booth at Disneyland Park in California.
"I have just been taking the kids through Disneyland," said Dave, "and it occurred to me that we happpened to play several tunes from Walt Disney movies!'
"This place is wild - what a backkground for pictures!
"Ah ! You mean for something like Jazz Goes to Disneyland ?
"That's right," said Dave. "It's a natural for an album cover, with me and the Quartet and all the kids." (Dave has five children.) "The scenery around here is just great to pose in front of. So we'll get quite a cover, and from the point of view of time we're really all set to go because we have all the repertoire in the book already."
It certainly was a natural. How come we didn't do it that way? Well, we didn't exactly not do it - in fact, this album is it. But the Disney Enterprises also use "Disneyland" as a record label, and we certainly could see Walt's reluctance to have it appear in the title of another company's product. Several long-distance calls later, these with various Disney officials at Hollywood and we had an alternative approach: "Dave Digs Disney" with the cover you see with a twist of your wrist. (No, not that wrist -- the one you're holding this jacket with.)
It seemed odd that the Brubeck Quartet plays enough tunes from Disney pictures to constitute an entire album but it just happens that Dave's repertoire has included these tunes for quite a long time. It was simply coincidental, but in thinking about it Dave realized that it was simply because they provide a great deal of contrast, most of them are rather pretty melodically, and thus lend themselves to variations in the vein Bruckekian romanticism, and at the same time have a great deal to offer to the Quartet from the harmonic point of view, also.
The construction of some of them is unusual, too, and. as Dave puts it, "There's nothing like a structure other than the usual 12, 16, or 32 bars to keep you on your toes and add to the kicks when you are improvising." The opening number of this collection, Alice in Wonderland and is a prime example for instance. It also sounds good whether it is played in 3/4 time, or in 4/4 time. The contrast between the two rhythms is especially striking, as Dave plays the introduction unacccompanied, and everyone comes in with Paul Desmond on alto sax, when the rhythm changes to 4/4. Alice also makes a good introduction to this album because it contains one of the most contrast-filled Brubeck solos on record, with particular emphasis on the "back home" feeling that Dave develops and returns to in this performance. Alice also contains one of those fine counterpoint duets between Dave and Paul.
Alice In Wonderland
Give A Little Whistle
When You Wish Upon A Star
Someday My Prince Will Come
Very Good Advice*
So This Is Love*
Dave Brubeck - Piano
Paul Desmond - Alto Sax
Norman Bates - Bass
Joe Morello - Drums
Recorded and released on Columbia August 3, 1957 and is catalog number CL 1059. This CD issue from 1994 and is factory sealed
"Give a Little Whistle" also features some counterpoint work by these two remarkable musicians. It is one of the earliest Disney tunes in the Dave Brubeck repertoire, and contains one thoroughly unexpected twist-possibly brought on by the fact that the boys have been playing it so long-which is the surprise ending. It's just one of those things .. that happened in the studio, and we liked it. "Heigh-Ho" has been developing of late as a closing number for a night club set, being one of those free-wheeling tunes with an orthodox structure, which lends itself to creating a climactic feeling of excitement.
"When You Wish Upon a Star", starts off with one of the struttingest openning choruses on record. Dave often starts this number with a rubato piano solo. During the recording ses sion, we decided to do it this way, with the unaccompanied bit at the end.
Improvisation in waltz time is heard again in "Someday My Prince Will Come". Desmond rocks this one along in fine style, and in his piano solo, Dave introduces 4/4 and 2/2 against the rhythm section 3/4, and there are no doubt other rhythms included, but we are afraid that we can't prove it - just as we cannot prove it either. Anyway, it's a lot of fun to just listen and hang on as Dave divides his brain cells into various camps. One Song is another "sailer." Paul Desmond rattles off one of his easy-riding, up solos, and bassist Norman Bates and drummer Joe Morello rock along behind him in propelling fashion. In fact, Norman and Joe do an exceptional job throughout this set in nudging Paul and Dave along and keeping things moving at all times.
It all adds. up to one of the most delightful and varied Brubeck albums to date, beginning from the unexpected subject matter of songs from Walt Disney motion pictures. And this album proves once again that repertoire can come from almost any source and still be treated successfully in the Jazz idiom, when in the hands of such experienced and imaginative minds of the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
One of the great finds in the canon of Dave Brubeck. By 1957 Brubeck was still in the midst of finializing the quartet, hence the Norman Bates on bass of which Eugene Wright would eventually replace. This come to us some two years before the landmark album "Time Out", which would rewrite jazz forever. But make no mistake "Dave Digs Disney" is pure Brubeck all the way and this album was forebearer of what was to come in 1959.
All come with jewel case, liner booklet and the CD disc itself.
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