Dave Brubeck: Lullabies – genial sleepytime jazz

Dave Brubeck is famous for his 1961 megahit Take Five (composed by his saxophonist, Paul Desmond), and catchy numbers in odd time signatures such as Blue Rondo à la Turk. In those days, jazz critics tended to be a little sniffy about Brubeck’s heavy-handed piano style. In later life, however, he made some beautifully simple solo albums, such as One Alone and Private Brubeck Remembers.

This one follows in a similar manner. It’s his last studio recording, made in 2010, two years before his death, and released now in time for his centenary next month. The programme is a mixture of old melodies and new Brubeck compositions. The former range from the Brahms Lullaby to Louis Armstrong’s signature tune, When It’s Sleepy Time Down South, each being treated to a little gentle harmonic rearrangement. The five originals are pleasant, light music. Briar Bush is a really strong tune waiting for a lyric, and Koto Song is based on the pentatonic scale, giving it a Japanese flavour. The average length of each of the 15 tracks is about three minutes. It’s all very mild, as the title suggests, but it’s genial and well made.