Immortal for the Time Being

Dave Brubeck Quartet. At the Lobero Theatre, Wednesday, August

Reviewed by Gerald Carpenter

Brubeck-Web.gifThe world has many more wonders than
seven, and jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck certainly must be
counted among them. In everything but his playing, Brubeck, 85, has
pared his energy usage down to the bare minimum. His dry, laconic,
and startlingly amusing remarks to the audience may be delivered in
a monotone, but they reveal a wry, alert intelligence.

The minute Brubeck’s fingers touch the keys he becomes ageless,
a mature master at the height of his powers. One gets the feeling
that he could go on forever. Jazz is by definition open-ended and
improvisational. The jazz musician is obliged, more by his own
conscience than the audience’s insistence, to explore
possibilities. It is the nature of the beast. So, even when the
quartet gave us the inevitable “Take Five,” Brubeck and his crew of
white-haired virtuosos found new lines of inquiry to pursue, and
new ways to state old ideas.

And Brubeck is not the only outstanding talent in the quartet
that bears his name. His sax and flute player Bobby Militello was
also very impressive at the Lobero on Wednesday. Militello has
“only” been with the group for 24 years. He is a worthy successor
to Paul Desmond, without really sounding at all like him — except
when it’s appropriate. As a flute player, he re-forms the quartet
around his instrument, and with numbers such as the flute-featuring
“Over the Rainbow,” the ensemble seems to have always been so

Militello has a commanding presence and personality. Some
masters of the saxophone seem introverted and esoteric, while
others appear to act mainly as conduits for vast reservoirs of
sound. Militello is clearly in control of his horn, and just as
clearly directs the music outward. It is truly wonderful to hear
him tuck an impossible number of notes into every nook and cranny
of a melody without ever distorting it or making it carry more than
is good for it. Every time I hear him, I am more impressed. And
that goes for the entire quartet, too.


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