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Their Last Time Out

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 1, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

On December 26, 1967, the classic Dave Brubeck Quartet (Paul Desmond on alto sax, Joe Morello on drums, and Eugene Wright on bass) gave its final concert as a group. On this occasion, they appeared in Pittsburgh, and while Columbia didn't do a recording (a studio session had taken place on the 18th, but didn't yield much that was interesting), the concert was recorded and has been made available by the Brubeck Archives. In that live recording, "The Last Time Out - December 26, 1967," the four musicians made the best out of this last opportunity to play together, in a final musical gesture that shows they were still at the top of their game. It is bound to attract the attention of Brubeck fans and jazz fans, given the fact that it marked the end of a celebrated quartet that had spanned some 18 years and given the 1960s one of its signature themes, "Take Five."
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 1, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: November 1, 2011
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • ASIN: B005JC1YR2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,787 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By John Tapscott on November 17, 2011
Format: Audio CD
The Dave Brubeck Quartet consisting of Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright and Joe Morello, played its final concert in Pittsburgh, Pa. on December 26, 1967. Luckily the concert was recorded (though not by Columbia) and the tapes finally discovered last year among Brubeck's personal collection. While there are no great surprises here, there is a sense of excitement in the playing and the solos, especially those of Brubeck himself. Desmond's flowing, lyrical alto solos are always a delight to hear; he was really at his best in the Brubeck Quartet. Despite the go-for-broke atttitude, the group maintains the legendary tightness and discipline developed over years of playing together. The program includes a number of Brubeck originals new and old, as well as some standards often played by the quartet. Every tune is noteworthy with La Polama Azul, Swanee River, I'm in a Dancing Mood, These Foolish Things, and Set My People Free being special highlights. The mono sound is decent and easily listenable. The only real drawback is that Desmond is slightly under-recorded on some tracks.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet may have been finished this night but they went out in grand style and this concert recording will greatly please the Quartet's many fans.
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Format: Audio CD
To my ears the most arresting piece in the performance is "Take the 'A' Train" which, like Billy's "Satin Doll," has never sounded like a Strayhorn composition. In both cases, the chords and their progression are simply too conventional to evoke the more elusive and exotic harmonies that distinguish a Strayhorn tune. "Take the A Train" was the first track on Dave's wildly popular "Jazz Goes to College," the LP that introduced many of us to the Brubeck Quartet, since like Miles' "Kind of Blue" it was one of tens of thousands of copies sent out by the Columbia Record Club to a nation of subscribers. On the present occasion, Dave completely transforms the song into something worthy of the composer of "Blood Count" and "UMMG." Taken at an uncharacteristically fast tempo, "A Train" oscillates between major and minor, occasionally playing with augmented chords that make the normally major key all the more indeterminate--and suggestive of Strayhorn.

Overall, this is one of the most satisfying sessions by this complement of players. Morello fans, especially, are likely to find the percussionist featured more prominently than on any other recording that comes to mind. And although i've read complaints about Paul's horn being slightly off mike, the instrument that suffers the most is Eugene Wright's bass, which is muddy, distant and unfocused in the mix (is it possible the recording was made with a single microphone placed at the rear of the auditorium?) Whatever the case, the music soon overrides any shortfalls in the quality of the audio. But, if anything, the realism is enhanced by the circumstances of this monaural recording, which sounds as though a single premium mic might have been used, one capable of being a stand-in for the audience member's perspective.
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I hear a few cuts from this album on KJZZ, one of the last remaining jazz stations on the radio. I get it on the internet because I have moved away from the Los Angeles area, and happened to be listening during one of their pledge drives recently (it broadcasts out of Cal State Univ. Long Beach, so it gets no advertising revenue) and they were playing songs from some of the albums they were giving as premiums for becoming a member.

I am a huge Brubeck Quartet fan. Hearing Take Five on the radio when I was a teenager in the very early '60s got me into jazz. This album was recently found and just released last year although it is many years old. It is the last studio recording done by the original Quartet and the tape was put in a box and forgotten for years. It was discovered last year and put out for us to hear. It is typical, classic Brubeck with most of the old standards, but is well worth listening to. There are subtle differences in this performance compared to the ones on earlier albums. That's what is so great about jazz -- always something new. Just when you think you've heard it all, there is something new, no matter how subtle.
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Historically speaking, capturing the last performance of the Dave Brubeck Quartet is no less an event than the last Beatles performance (on the Abbey Road Studios rooftop, not the abbreviated fiasco at Candlestick Park in '66). In brief, these recordings were discovered in Brubeck's closet by his longtime producer, Russell Gloyd, and are rumored to have been recorded directly off the sound board during the performance on Dec 26, 1967. They have been prepared for release, and the result is nothing short of great. NOTE: If you are put off by the fact that this recording is in mono, then don't buy it. If, however, you are a Brubeck fan or otherwise want to explore a new addition to the canon, then this is for you. The enthusiasm and performance of these guys, knowing that this was 'Their Last Time Out,' sparkles, including songs never before (or since) recorded by them. My personal favorite is the Joe Morello composition, "For Drummers Only," a nearly 12 minute blast of percussive pyrotechnics by Morello, punctuated by Brubeck's swinging solo piano. Of note also is the performance of Take Five, without the famous Morello drum solo, but overwhelming with audience excitement, seemingly felt symbiotically by the musicians during the performance. A winner!
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