Before there was Jam, there was bebop. The style took form in a post WWII progressive jazz scene that begat bebop; a free form jazz movement that pushed boundaries with long improvisational jamming. From 1945 to the late 1950’s, big bands downsized into small combos, taking the best of swing and growing it into bebop. Bebop was hip, creating many moods and created a many great offshoots.
One the best, was Dave Brubeck who flawlessly melded jazz into a classical music structure. His quartet had a secret weapon, the silky yet soulful Paul Desmond on alto sax. Brubeck’s masterpiece 1959 album Time Out put the music public on its ear. The quartet had seamlessly integrated Mozart’s short but famous piano piece, “Rondo alla turca” (a/k/a “Turkish March”) into a jazz masterpiece, “Blue Rondo a la Turk”. The seamless segue from classical to jazz and back is sublime. Brubeck created an original time signature for “Blue Rondo,” with three measures of 2+2+2+3 followed by one measure of 3+3+3. Brilliant and original, it is an all-time jazz classic. The album version is 6:43, a considerable length for a record back then.
In 1963, Brubeck played NYC ‘s Carnegie Hall and delivered a smoking performance that truly stands the test of time. The 12-minute “Blue Rondo” from the show is so good, the crowd was demonstratively cheering for a full minute! Given an opportunity to really stretch, Paul gives an inspired sax solo that will take your breath away. Dave gets his turn on the grand piano with masterful trick of turning basic scales into an epic jam.
Let’s listen in on this great jam below!