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Reviewing Dave Brubeck at the Ottawa Jazz Festival

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Photo courtesy of basicallybrian on Flicrk.

Photo courtesy of basicallybrian on Flickr.

Post by Mark De Abreu

As Dave Brubeck took the stage at Confederation Park on Saturday, the packed Ottawa Jazz Fest crowd couldn’t help but welcome him with a warm standing ovation—the first of many that evening. The legendary 89-year-old jazz pianist was as sharp and playful as ever as he lead his quartet—featuring Bobby Militello on saxophone and flute, Michael Moore on upright bass and Randy Jones on drums—and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, conducted by Russell Gloyd.

While the audience was treated to an eclectic selection of songs from his extensive and illustrious career, the ensemble highlighted works from Brubeck’s groundbreaking albums Time Out (1959) and Time Further Out (1961) famous for their quirky time signatures. “Blue Rondo a la Turk”, shifting between an exotic 9/8 and a bluesy 4/4 beat, sounded especially epic with full orchestral accompaniment. Despite warnings of a challenging seven-beat rhythm, the audience was happy to clap along to “Unsquare Dance”. Later in the show, the extended drum solo of “Take Five” (5/4 time) kept everyone on the edge of their seats.

Dave put the concert to bed with a bluesy arrangement of “Brahms’s Lullaby”, ironically ensuring that the audience’s excitement would keep them awake long into the night.

The Festival wraps up tonight with Richard Bona (7:30 PM) and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (9:00 PM) at Confederation Park. Check the Ottawa Jazz Festival website for full schedule and ticket information.

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