Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I hear you’re mad about Brubeck….

I like your eyes, I like him too. We’ve celebrated the anniversary of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. While 2009 is still with us, we can’t forget that other classic jazz album from 1959, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out. He’s an artist, a pioneer. And, incidentally, a Catholic convert. Here, courtesy of YouTube, is "Blue Rondo a la Turk." Mix yourself a dry one and dig on it.


  1. Wow, I had no idea he was a Catholic now! From Take Five to Take Communion.

  2. I think Fagan's being facetious in his lyrics inasmuch as the intention of the protagonist was merely to get the girl into his old man's fall-out shelter for beers, and who know what else? After all, Brubeck is to jazz (mostly) as Velveeta is to cheese, and Fagan understands this (see the pic of Sonny Rollins on the record cover?). It's a hip commentary on the '54 Time Magazine Man of the Year debacle.

    On the other hand, the part about learning architecture overseas shows the man as a young Randian idealist.

    Fagan's lyrics pretty much convey the spirit of the times, at least as far as they go. I'd give Nightfly at least a four or a five. Good beat, danceable, and generally inoffensive for pop-jazz. The original digital CD release was aurally on the "dry side" but not too bad for the times. Better on the Original Masters Mobile Fidelity plastic record. It took a while for producers/engineers to get digital sounding "right." Just what the blog needs: a record review.

  3. Well, there was certainly that perception of Brubeck because of the Time cover, but whether it is fair or not is another question. Anyway, you are right that (like the other songs on The Nightfly) this one involves a character who, even if loosely based on a young Fagen, doesn't necessarily reflect his own views. And I don't know off-hand what Fagen thinks of Brubeck, though it's worth noting that he does lump him in with "Ornette Coleman, Miles, and Motown" in his blurb for Fred Kaplan's book 1959. Anyway, the allusion to the Fagen song was just for laughs.

    And dammit, the blog does need a record review, so thanks for that. I admit to liking all three of Fagen's solo albums very much. What's interesting is how much less cynical they are than a Steely Dan album. Indicates that Becker is the one putting the real bite into the Dan sense of humor.

    True, Morph the Cat is a bit darker, but unfortunately in a way that is sometimes more heavy-handed than witty (at least in "Mary Shut the Garden Door" with its -- to me -- absurdly paranoid political message). On the other hand, "The Night Belongs to Mona" is delightfully Dan-like in its dark humor.

  4. What's interesting is how much less cynical they are than a Steely Dan album.

    The characterizations are done well. The kid in (is it?) New Frontier has not had time to learn cynicism; he is young and less concerned with whether the "Reds" are going to push the button than whether he can get to know more of his Ambush wearing-Tuesday Weld-limbo loving acquaintance. And, if they do, obviously there's no time to be lost. Besides, the shelter's stocked with essential provisions...

    The cynical character is, of course, the Nightfly. A man bored with life ("I wait all night for calls like these..."), resolved only to a memory of love (yet, to his credit, more philosophical about it than bitter) but, in any case, making the most of his life by working a low paying job suited to his bohemian psychology. His wants and comforts are minimal: a cup of hot black, a pack of Chesterfield Kings, and jazz records. He probably dreads the coming daylight when he must step into the "real" world of people. But then he can always go back to his meager apartment and sleep, maybe even dreaming of a time when love was life. Not sure the kid listening in the middle of the night on his AM radio understands any of this. That probably comes later.

    Now that I've had time to think about it, the album's a solid five stars.

  5. BTW: tomorrow is Brubeck's 89th, and if you've got Sirius there's a special to celebrate, tonight at 8. Channel 72, Real Jazz.