The earliest Brubeck records originally made in 1949 for Coronet, are still available on Fantasy, the label for which he recorded until 1954, when he was also heard on Columbia. After causing a local stir in San Francisco, his group rose swiftly to the top among modern jazz combos and was soon nationally known. His quartet toured on concert work and occasional night club dates and appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival in July 1958. The Quartet toured with great success in England, on the Continent, in Poland, and through the Middle East in 1958.
Brubeck died one day short of his 92nd birthday on December 5th 2012. On his death the Los Angeles Times noted that he "was one of Jazz's first pop stars," even though he was not always happy with his fame, uncomfortable, for example, that Time had featured him on the cover before it did so for Duke Ellington, saying, "It just bothered me". In The Daily Telegraph, music journalist Ivan Hewett wrote: "Brubeck didn’t have the réclame of some jazz musicians who lead tragic lives. He didn’t do drugs or drink. What he had was endless curiosity combined with stubbornness", adding "His work list is astonishing, including oratorios, musicals and concertos, as well as hundreds of jazz compositions. This quiet man of jazz was truly a marvel." In The Guardian, John Fordham said "Brubeck's real achievement was to blend European compositional ideas, very demanding rhythmic structures, jazz song-forms and improvisation in expressive and accessible ways. His son Chris told the Guardian "when I hear Chorale, it reminds me of the very best Aaron Copland, something like Appalachian Spring. There's a sort of American honesty to it." Robert Christgau dubbed Brubeck the "jazz hero of the rock and roll generation".
These two live sessions some five years apart capture perfectly the unique rapport which Desmond and Brubeck achieved during this historic collaboration.
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