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July 3, 1957, Vol. II, No. 36
Brubeck at Basin Street
By Bob Reisner
Greenwich Village has become the jazz capital of the world, with six clubs featuring hot and cool running riffs. The latest impressive spot is Lower Basin Street, which occupies the site of what once was The Pad, on Seventh Avenue South. The room is large but warm. There is a bleacher or cheering section where no minimum applies. Ralph Watkins is the man in charge of all complaints and compliments. He has mapped out the space so that the crowds are always accommodated comfortably.
The amber light flattered my wife as well as the rest of the ladies. The food is good and the big names are drawing the uptown people and tourists.
The night I was there Dave Brubeck had just completed a grueling day. He had been on the Percy Faith show, done a record date, made the Mitch Miller show, and had another six hours of club work ahead; yet he was his most gentle sweet self, chatting with me in between sets while dispensing here an autograph and there a hand.
I asked him why his schedule was so crowded, and he said that completing his commitments early enabled him to get home to California faster and have an extra day with his wife and five children. He had a bit of home with him in the person of his young son Darius (named for Milhaud, whom Brubeck studied under). The boy was a thoroughly delightful table companion. He followed his father’s performance keenly, and after a number he reeled off five popular tunes in the sequence in which Dave had interpolated them in a piece he had played. The boy next teased pretty Jutta Hipp, the pianist whose trio is the other group on the bill. He said that she left a love note for Paul Desmond in the piano when he took the stand. Actually it was a drawing she’d made for him.
Brubeck’s combination, consisting of himself plus Desmond, alto, Norman Bates, bass, and Joe Morello, drums, was excellent. The group swings hard, and when Dave uses all 10 fingers at once he makes a mighty big sound. Composing is one facet of Brubeck’s talent that’s gaining greater prominence. He played two of his tunes, “The Duke” and “In Your Own Sweet Way,” the latter of which is becoming a jazz standard. This was the first appearance of Brubeck in the Village, and I hope it won’t be too long a wait for the second.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 21, 2008