Dave Brubeck's Greatest Hits
This 1966 survey of Dave Brubeck’s Columbia work couldn’t be tighter or more effective. There’s quartet material from Time Out and Time Further Out, with all their famous rhythmic asymmetries, but also two tracks from the vibrant, lesser-known Bossa Nova U.S.A. and a definitive version of “The Duke,” one of Brubeck’s greatest melodies. Much of the collection, naturally, centers on Brubeck’s sublime rapport with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, notably on the harmonically intriguing remake of Stephen Foster’s “Camptown Races” and the intricate tempo-shifting marvel “I'm in a Dancing Mood.” But there’s also a solo piano rundown of “In Your Own Sweet Way,” and Brubeck’s unique language on the instrument is richly evident throughout. There’s a hard-driving blues attack in his playing—a certain old-school, use-the-whole-piano approach—but also at times a kind of minimalist restraint, both of which balance his compositional modernism.