The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Near Myth – Reviewed in 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This original STEREO BLUE VINYL Fantasy pressing has Hot Stamper sound on both sides, with rich and musical Tubey Magical qualities appropriate to this early ’60s West Coast jazz. We’ve known about this album for close to twenty years, having played the surprisingly good sounding OJC pressing and recommended it back in the days when those kinds of records were still in print. 

As you can imagine there’s not much going on at the frequency extremes, high or low; we have yet to hear a Fantasy pressing from the era that boasts full bandwidth sound, but the middle sure can be awfully nice!

Side Two

A to A++, very good sound with more top and bottom than most. There are condition problems of course; colored Fantasy vinyl is rarely quieter. Most of the time these kinds of records are so beat they are completely unplayable. This one is the exception; it can be played and enjoyed.

Side One

A+, rich and musical but a bit veiled with some all-too-common tube smear.

AMG Review

This is the third and final guest appearance by clarinetist Bill Smith in the place of Paul Desmond with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Like the earlier record dates, this 1961 session focuses exclusively on Smith’s compositions, resulting in a very different sound for the band than its normal mix of the leader’s songs and standards. Smith was a member of Brubeck’s adventurous octet of the late ’40s and, like the pianist, also studied with French composer Darius Milhaud. So the clarinetist is willing to take chances, utilizing a mute on his instrument in “Pan’s Pipes,” and having drummer Joe Morello use his timpani sticks on the piano strings in the swinging “The Unihorn.” Smith proves himself very much in Desmond’s league with his witty solos and equally amusing, pun-filled liner notes. While none of these songs became a regular part of Brubeck’s repertoire, even after Smith replaced tenorist Jerry Bergonzi as a member of the quartet in 1982, this is easily the best of the three albums that he made with Dave Brubeck during the late ’50s and early ’60s.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Unihorn
Bach an’All
Siren Song
Pan’s Pipes
By Jupiter

Side Two

Baggin’ the Dragon
Apollo’s Axe
The Sailor and the Mermaid
Nep-Tune
Pan Dance