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CD Feature/ Dave Brubeck, Anthony & Joseph Paratore: "Points on Jazz"

img  Tobias

While studying at Mills College in Canada, Dave Brubek couldn’t make up his mind: Was he going to be a Classical composer or a Jazz musician? Brubeck was not the first to arrive at this “point break”, but he certainly represented one of the few to take the drastic decision and continue as both. It wasn’t until 1960 and Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Pain” that he seemed like a visionary. And even then, Jazz was far from breaking through to concert halls. A lifetime of dedication to his cause led to an invitation from the Klavierfestival Ruhr in Germany, where by almost total chance he discovered that two pianists were about to play his “They all sang Yankee Doodle” as part of the festival’s program. “Who are these people?”, Brubeck purportedly asked and the search for the answer to that question is the story to this CD.

Meanwhile, Anthony and Joseph Paratore had taken the bold step of concentrating on their four-handed piano performance, instead of facing the world on their own with two respectable solo careers – something which their talent and prize-paved road up to the 1974 Munich International Music Competition had definitely implied. What seperated them from most of their piano duo colleages was that this was not just a practical solution, but in fact an artistic challenge. Consequently, the rediscovery of forgotten repertoire and the debut performances of specially commisioned works become their trademark not only becaue the literature for their genre was comparatively small, but also because they actively sought to push their limits. This might well have been one of the reasons for the inclusion of “They all sang Yankee Doodle” in their Klavierfestival Ruhr concert, a twelve minute collage of traditionals, intimate moments and the omnipresent “Yankee Doodle” theme. A piece of contrasts, it hammers away like a little child on a toy instrument in one instance, only to grab the listener by the throat with its cinematic passages in the next. While still in Germany, Brubeck traced the Paratore’s address and arranged for a meeting, in which the duo expressed their sincerest desire to expand the collaboration. “Four by Four” followed, a short suite of pieces in which the slow tempo-indications are thwarted by the brother’s agile sprints on the keyboard. “Tamale” by Dave’s late brother Howard came in as a perfect encore, a naive melody over a loping rhythm alternating with dreamy atmospherics. But it is the album’s title piece, which really steals the hearts: Beginning with a tentatively unfolding minor chord sequence, it innitiates a whirlwind session of musical chairs, jumping from jazz to baroque, from movements by the name of “Blues” and “Rag” to “Chorals”, “Waltzes” and “Fufues”, until the grand “A la Turk” finale catches everything in a skybound endless loop.

“Yankee Doodle”, as the starting point to this festival of styles takes its deserved and natural place at the record’s axis and serves as a bridge from the ecstatic opening to the smaller-scale pieces of the second half, which, however, are no less rewarding. Like any other Jazz-related album, this one screams for a live-version, for more rawness and rough edges, but that should not take anything away from the energy and pleasure this collection radiates. Anthony and Joseph Paratore have taken the big decision of not making a choice – and the result has the power to make concert halls tremble.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Anthony & Joseph Paratore/Piano Duo Paratore
Homepage: Dave Brubeck fan page
Homepage: Universal Classics

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