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North-East tour notes
An introduction to Concerto barocco
Take Five introductory notes
Take Five costume rehearsals
Take Five press quotes

What's on

North-East tour spring 2008

King's Lynn Corn Exchange
29 - 30 April 2008

Durham Gala
6 - 7 May 2008

York Theatre Royal
9 - 10 May 2008

Click here for a full diary of performances and links for how to book.

Full performance diary

Click here for performance listings.

Take Five (part two)

For the next ten years, Brubeck globe-trotted constantly, with the quartet always in demand. But in 1967 he wound it up, to concentrate increasingly on large-scale composition writing ballets, a mass, various cantatas, and combinations of jazz musicians and symphony ensembles.

The British equivalent, specially assembled for these performances, is well equipped to interpret Brubeck's originals. Pianist Steve Lodder is, like Brubeck, a jazz musician with a profound understanding of classical music. Dudley Phillips and Ralph Salmins, on bass and drums respectively, are at ease with all kinds of contemporary jazz, being expert deliverers of complex scores who are also equipped with pin-sharp improvisers' instincts.

Saxophonist Simon Allen is a Royal Academy graduate who has previously worked with Colin Towns's Mask Orchestra and with Birmingham Royal Ballet, but who has also performed alongside some of the UK's most innovative jazz musicians, including Kenny Wheeler, Django Bates and Iain Ballamy. For the material, Colin Towns has drawn on an early-1960s Brubeck period that unleashed a stream of memorable themes. 'Take Five', 'Blue Rondo la Turk' and 'Three To Get Ready' are all from the 1959 Time Out album.

'Unsquare Dance', from 1961, followed from Time Further Out, with 'Bossa Nova USA' and 'Autumn In Washington Square' written in 1962 and 1964. 'Take Five' (written by Paul Desmond) is in 5/4, a startling intruder into the jazz rules of the period but Desmond's spontaneity allowed him to drift in and out of the pattern in his improvisation, without compromising his boss's emphatic punctuation of the original time in the least. Brubeck used 9/8 for the engaging Mozartian 'Blue Rondo la Turk' (it's the rhythm of the Turkish zeybek folk-dance, the quartet having been on a revealing tour of the region a few years before), but slyly switched back and forth to 4/4 as the piece progressed. 'Three to Get Ready' started as a waltz, but also ducked in and out of 4/4, developing as a fascinating conversation between a simple, almost childlike melody and the quick-thinking and much more intricate rejoinders of the drums and saxophone. 'Bossa Nova USA' was Brubeck's acknowledgement of the hitmaking early 1960s jazz-samba movement that saxophonist Stan Getz and singer Astrud Gilberto launched with hits like 'Desafinado' and 'Girl From Ipanema'. In Brubeck's bossa, Paul Desmond's slinkily agile saxophone line unfolds at an altogether more animated pace over Morello's hustling drumming than was usual for the idiom.

'Autumn In Washington Square', by contrast, was a sophisticated romantic reverie Dave Brubeck's less feted, but equally distinctive gift. He was to develop it most fully with 'In Your Own Sweet Way', which became a jazz standard explored by Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery and many other legends of the music.

Dave Brubeck's son Darius once remarked to this writer in The Guardian newspaper that the term 'third stream' (frequently used in the 1960s to describe crossovers between classical music and jazz) had latterly fallen out of use. The reason, Darius Brubeck thought, was that 'now it's everywhere. It's not a style, but a skill-set. It just means musicians who have the flexibility to play outside specific idioms of the blues, or popular song, or whatever. Dave was controversial from the standpoint that people wanted to stick to a certain type of narrative about jazz, and what he was doing contradicted it.' Music-lovers everywhere can welcome Birmingham Royal Ballet's new look at the Brubeck legacy as an opportunity to reiterate their gratitude for that.



John Fordham writes on jazz in The Guardian
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