As a grand finale for the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, the Dave Brubeck Quartet performed an incredible set last night at Massey Hall. Although the group of four could have been called Dave Brubeck and the Geriatrics, these jazz cats were tighter than David Bowie’s pants in Labyrinth. 85-year-old Brubeck was absolutely amazing. With Bobby Militello on alto sax/flute, Michael Moore on double bass (no, not THAT Michael Moore), and Randy Jones on drums, the group captivated an attentive audience with two hours of jazz brilliance. The 2 hours seemed like 5 minutes as the old men swung through a selection of jazz standards as well as Brubeck’s own compositions.
Brubeck’s solos were breathtaking and featured contrapuntal gestures à la Bach, dissonant chromaticism a la Schoenberg, polytonality à la Milhaud, and exciting jazzified jazziness à la jazz. Brubeck was having a grand old time: he told comedic anecdotes about touring chaos and he chuckled with glee as his sidemen took solos. The show would have been incomplete without Take Five, which was the final piece for the evening (before encores). Aside from the amusing reference to O Canada in the sax solo, Take Five featured an outstanding drum solo that nearly blew us to bits. Watching a grandpa take charge at the drum kit brought visions of a could-have-been-good-but-never-happened scene from The Muppet Show. As an encore, the quartet played Take the ‘A’ Train which was appropriately followed by Brubeck’s solo rendition of Brahms’ Lullaby. By this point, grey-haired guys were ready for some shut eye and further standing ovations weren’t going to get in their way.
Photo wizardry c/o Georgios Kefalas – Associated Press, taken on Dec 11, 2005