November 2000

Dave Brubeck - One Alone
Telarc CD 83510
Released: 2000

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ***

[Reviewed on CD]Dave Brubeck and jazz piano -- the two are synonymous. And when you have Dave Brubeck playing solo jazz piano, you’ve distilled jazz to its most basic element. On One Alone, Brubeck gets the rare opportunity to express himself the best way he knows how: alone.

Brubeck has survived long enough now to be considered one of the grand old men of the jazz piano. Although he made his recording debut in 1949 and is approaching his 80th year, he still has much he wants to express. One Alone, which marks only his fourth solo effort in the last 40 years (his third for Telarc), is his chance to revisit some of his favorite standards, as well as a couple of tunes he wrote long, long ago.

One Alone is introspective. Most of the tunes are done at ballad tempo: stately, almost deliberately slow. It’s as if Brubeck wants to make sure we appreciate, not just hear, everything he’s trying to tell us. And while there may be very little of the old fire in his playing here, one still gets a full dose of Brubeck’s vast intelligence. You’ll understand exactly what I mean right from the opening tune, "That Old Feeling," where he takes the old standard and plays it with flourishes both simple and complex. One of the few times Brubeck’s playing harks back to the old days is on "You’ve Got Me Crying Again," where he picks up the pace and demonstrates he still can put a charge into a tune anytime he’s of a mind to. But it’s when Brubeck slows things down that we can hear how much he enjoys these songs, how much he knows about them, how much feeling he’s putting into them. And we’re the beneficiaries.

The piano here is about as well recorded as I’ve ever heard, but only on the tracks done with the DSD process. (Only five tracks used Sonic Solutions’ digital editing system; the rest are DSD. Therefore this disc offers you the golden opportunity to compare DSD directly with PCM.) There is a dry acoustic on the PCM tracks, but on the newer, DSD-recorded tracks, the sound is rich, full and tonally correct. This alone is a sufficient reason to run right out and buy One Alone.

But the main reason for you to purchase One Alone is Dave Brubeck. Given his age, ability, and experience, any chance to listen to Brubeck solo is a special treat -- one that shouldn’t be passed up lightly. His is a unique talent; we may never hear its like again in our lifetimes.