LIVE: The Brubeck Brothers Quartet @ Caffe Lena, 9/11/18

The Brubeck Brothers

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
Additional photographs by Joseph Deuel

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet and individual musicians of the band in various other side projects have frequently made Saratoga Springs a stop in their tours. In fact, keyboard player Chuck Lamb now resides there. So it was no surprise that they were recently featured at Caffe Lena’s second Tuesday jazz series last month.

For this performance, the band played original songs, as well as legacy tunes from jazz legend Dave Brubeck, the father of the band’s bassist/trombonist Chris Brubeck and drummer Dan Brubeck. Selections from Timelines and Lifetimes were featured along with music from various other projects.

Guitarist Mike DeMicco’s composition “West of One” opened the first set. Referring to the beautiful California coastline that is west of Highway One, the tune makes you feel like you are driving in an open convertible with the beautiful shore in clear view and the sound of the waves in the background – much like the “cool jazz” of the ’50s that had its origins on the West Coast.

The theme of water continued into the second song, “Far More Blue,” not about the blues, but rather a musical description for the blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

From there the universality of the human experience was expressed in Louis Armstrong/Dave Brubeck’s swingin’ “Since Love Has Its Way” with Lamb and DeMicco trading tasty licks. “Jazzanians” explored African rhythms. “Seventh Sense” had the most insistent, syncopated beat of the evening, and at a Brubeck concert, that’s saying something.

An almost “unwaltz” version of “Kathy’s Waltz” – originally on Dave Brubeck’s Time Further Out album – teased the audience with variety of shifting time signatures before finally breaking out into a waltz.

Lamb’s “Star Trek”-inspired ”Prime Directive” with its grand TV show theme song-like opening was played joyously by the keyboardist with the rest of the band closely backing him up. “Dziekuje,” Polish for thank you, is a bittersweet melancholy melody played by Lamb. Uncharacteristic for its western classical influences, inspired by the loyalty and devotion of Dave Brubeck’s Polish fans who were repressed by the then Communist regime not to express their enthusiasm for the music. Chris Brubeck played trombone on this.

Dan Brubeck’s drums (and the odd rhythms that made their father famous) closed the show with the classics “Blue Rondo A La Turk” and “Take Five.” Lamb led the band on a variety of unexpected musical detours, and DeMicco’s solo even quoted the standard “Invitation.” It was an evening of enjoyable music that took some interesting and surprising turns.

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet is slated for a return to Greater Nippertown at 8pm on Friday, November 30 when they make a stop at the Cohoes Music Hall. Tickets are on sale now, priced at $29.50, $32.50 & $39.50.

The Brubeck Brothers
The Brubeck Brothers
Mike DeMicco
Chuck Lamb
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