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"Elementals" boosts this CD to Five Stars due to its groundbreaking fusion of jazz and symphonic composition. Since first hearing this piece more than a quarter-century ago, I've stuck with my impression that Brubeck has fashioned a wonderfully mesmerizing history of humankind through music. The opening, almost primordial in nature, segues into a Biblical-sounding passage artfully played by 'King David', then slides into a musical evocation of the Middle Ages, whereupon both the tempo and counterpoint between the Quartet and the Eastman orchestra hasten. Moving into the just-completed century, there are strains of swing, beebop and what I'll call missile-age musical pyrotechnics. It all comes to one crashing denouement, leaving you to wonder, 'What's next for Man'?
If you gave me the choice of listening to "Take Five", "Blue Rondo" or "Elementals" just one more time, I'd hesitate ... then choose "Elementals". It's that powerful and intriguing.
As a bonus, the CD contains a shorter version of the piece with just the quartet that precedes the fully orchestrated recording. You don't have to be a composition major to appreciate the structure that Brubeck created in this exercise in theme development and variation. I still hear things for the first time after all these years.
If you are a musician (and especially a member of a rhythm section) this album is an excellent study in time signatures as well as composition.
Give the sound samples on this page a run through to get a sense of the album (I am reviewing the digital format that I purchased elsewhere: Time Changes). The last track is totally different in that it has a full orchestra backing the quartet, but, too, is a study in time.
This album was recorded in NYC for Columbia over the course of five sessions from October to January 1964. All of the tracks were composed by Dave Brubeck except Shim Wha, which is drummer Joe Morello's composition. While I cannot prove it, I am betting that Paul Desmond had a hand in composing some of the tracks.
Here are the session dates and personnel: the first five tracks were recorded by the Quartet (Brubeck on piano, Desmond on alto sax, Gene Wright on bass and Morello on drums). Cable Car was recorded on October 15, 1963, World's Fair on November 20, 1963, and the remaining tracks (except Theme from Elementals and Elementals) on December 3, 1963. The two 'Elementals' tracks were recorded on December 12, 1963 and January 8, 1964, and feature a large backing orchestra conducted by Rayburn Wright.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is probably my favorite Brubeck album. I have the vinyl, and wanted the CD for convenience.Published 3 months ago by David W. Anderson
Purchased to "replace" old LP record. "Elementals" (with or without the backup orchestra) is well worth the purchase price by itself.Published 11 months ago by Raymond E. Franck
Love Dave Brubeck. Love this music. I can listen to it 24 hours a day.Published 16 months ago by Janie Petaja
Dave Brubeck's arrangements are great, and the harmonies, tempos, and 'feeling' in the music is the best. What a treat to relax and listen to his great arrangements. Read morePublished on April 30, 2014 by Leo
I have loved Dave Brubeck ever since I first heart "Take Five". I have a very eclectic ear for a lot of different music, Jazz, Blues, Country and soothing sounds.Published on March 11, 2014 by Barney R
Once again, The Dave Brubeck Quartet would present us another creative
and enduring Time Signature in 1963 where the astonishing Countdown Time
In Outer Space left... Read more