Dave Brubeck Trio featuring Cal Tjader


Early stuff from Dave — recorded back when his core trio featured a young Cal Tjader! Cal plays here on vibes and drums — and it’s interesting to hear how much Latin and exotic influences he had even at this young age. His playing makes the tracks perhaps a bit more whimsical than the usual Brubeck outing, and the overall sound is a lot different than the late 50s work from Dave on Columbia. Cal even seems to play a bit of bongos at times — and titles include “Tea For Two”, “Laura”, “Body & Soul”, “Lullaby In Rhythm”, “Undecided”, “Blue Moon”, “That Old Black Magic”, “You Stepped Out Of A Dream” “I’ll Remember April” and “Let’s Fall In Love”.  


This is a young Dave Brubeck, fresh from war service in Europe and study under the G.I. Bill at Mills College in Oakland, California under Darius Milhaud. This is the trio Brubeck led prior to a serious swimming accident in Hawaii that preceded the formation of the Dave Brubeck Quartet with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. Tjader was a fellow student at Mills College under Milhaud, and it was here that Brubeck formed an octet with fellow students.

What is remarkable is how this group actually anticipated the Birth of the Cool sides, since the octet recorded in 1946 and 1948 for Fantasy (Birth of the Cool was recorded in 1949/50). Two of those tracks are included here – ‘Laura’ and ‘How High the Moon’ and it seems remarkable how jazz history has passed this band by. Tjader and Crotty were both octet alumni, while Brubeck’s playing here across 24 trio tracks reveals how almost fully-formed his playing was in 1949 and 1950, when these tracks were recorded – for example ‘Blue Moon’ was polytonal, ‘How High the Moon’ is approached as a fugue (as it was by the Octet) and frequently Brubeck can be heard in polyrhythmic excursion. As the critic and producer John Hammond wrote of Brubeck at this time, “a new figure in jazz to whom the terms ‘progressive’ and radical may be justly applied… a brilliant technician… a trailblazer in music, uncompromising in his standards.” Sadly, it was only after his death that these elements of his musical personality began to be fully appreciated.