Priceless Editions // Dave Brubeck (Columbia 4-PE 12)

The Music

Tune:  Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me

Recorded:  Early (March?) 1954; location dubious


  • Paul Desmond-  Alto Sax
  • Dave Brubeck-  Piano
  • Bob Bates-  Bass
  • Joe Dodge-  Drums

Another Brubeck rarity and oddity, with a mysterious background to match.  This 7″ 45rpm contains just one performance, a live recording of the Brubeck quartet playing ‘Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me’.  Side one contains Desmond’s solo, with Brubeck’s solo picking up on the next side.  Desmond blows two choruses, making a reference to a Christmas song and then using it to spin more lyrical lines into his solo.  Brubeck’s solo sounds like something Debussy would play if he was a jazz musician.  Due to what I assume were the time constraints of the 45rpm disc, Brubeck’s solo is edited, and Desmond is back in to close the number out.  A solid performance.

Being a rarity, though, means that there’s a backstory, and this record has one.  As far as I have found, the only information about this record comes from the liner notes of another Brubeck album.  In the newspaper liner notes of ‘At Storyville 1954’, it’s explained that this version of ‘Don’t Worry’ was selected by Brubeck himself from his unreleased tapes of their 1954 concert at the University of Cincinnati.Screenshot (1)

The groovy liner notes also talk about how this version of ‘Don’t Worry’ was only put out as a free promotional record during the summer of 1954, stating that if you didn’t grab it during that time, you’ll never see it again.  I’m sure that line made quite a few fans upset.  To read more about the promotion and read a quaint story about the ‘discovery of the female anatomy by record companies’, check out this August 1954 issue of Billboard Magazine.

Listening to the music, it’s almost immediately apparent that this is not a college recording at all.  The ambiance is all wrong, sounding much more like a nightclub than a college concert, complete with tinkling glass, hushed conversation, and intimate-sounding surroundings.  No, despite the liner notes stating otherwise, this is a nightclub recording.  In fact, listening to the acoustics of the instruments, particularly the piano, it sounds identical to the Brubeck recordings made at… Storyville, 1954.  In other words, I believe this recording was taken from the same tapes that made part of the ‘At Storyville 1954’ album.  Are you all still with me?

That album, despite its name, was made up of a hodge-podge of different recording sources.  Two of the tracks on that album came from a radio broadcast from Storyville in March of 1954, and on the second track, the radio announcer states that the radio broadcast had been on for 25 minutes already.  There was much more that the group played that didn’t make it onto the album.  Apparently, this track is one of the unissued songs from that broadcast, which is odd because the version of this song that did make it onto the album is sonically inferior to this version (it was recorded on a home recording machine, not professionally by Columbia).  Kinda makes you wonder what else is in those vaults of Columbia/Sony.  Also makes you wonder why these record companies felt the need to be dishonest.  Or was it an honest mistake? George Avakian, Columbia’s heavyweight and Brubeck’s producer, is still alive, so I suppose I could shoot him an email…

In conclusion, the backstory behind this record is that it’s not a college performance at all, but another cut from Storyville, circa March of ’54.  I have no hard evidence, admittedly, but the evidence I do have is pretty convincing.  To compare the acoustics and hear the radio announcer’s words, listen to the blues below, which comes from the same broadcast.

One thing that Avakian was telling the truth about in those liner notes is that it hasn’t been available on any format but this one since the promotion was over.

The Vinyl

There was no cover for this little disc, just a plain paper sleeve.

The labels clearly state that this is promotional-only merchandise, not for sale.  The fidelity is mostly good, but there’s certain frequencies where it crackles a bit.  It fades out for Desmond’s solo and fades back in on the other side.

The Place of Acquisition

eBay once again comes to the rescue.  I found a copy of this on eBay last year but waited too long to grab it, and it disappeared.  When I saw this one last week, I immediately grabbed it, and it came in the mail a few days ago.  The seller claimed it was Mint condition, saying that he rarely gives that rating to his records.  Yeah right.  I should’ve known something was up when he offered it for $6.00 or a better offer.  I offered $3.50 and he took it.  If it wasn’t such a hard to come-by record, I’d complain, but hey.  I got it for a deal, well within my collegiate budget, and it’s ‘new’ Brubeck.  What’s there to complain about?

14 thoughts on “Priceless Editions // Dave Brubeck (Columbia 4-PE 12)

  1. There is a March 30, 1954 run through of Don’t Worry About Me. Other tracks performed were Jeepers Creepers and Bay Black Blues. The Complete Storyville Broadcasts lists Don’t Worry About Me as being from December 1953. I find no indication that this date is in fact correct (it could very well be). The liner notes for Complete Storyville states that John McLellan did the introduction for the radio broadcast.

    In the article, it states that ‘In the mid-fifties, McLellan also broadcast a “live from Storyville” show on Tuesday nights on WHDH for three years.’ Which would place this as roughly being 1954 (to 1957 as McLellan moved onto other things).

    In addition, Storyville was also known for its “sophisticated listening room vibe”

    ‘….Vacca also praises the club’s atmosphere: “It was a listening room, it wasn’t a bar that had music. There was a great deal of respect on the part of Wein and his staff for the people on the bandstand and the people who were listening to the music.” ‘

    In closing, while not fully convinced of a definitive date, I would tend to fall on the March 30, 1954 date as there were other tracks that were not released and the statements of “being 25 minutes into it” already.

    1. Yet again, I am appreciative of your knowledge. John McLellan was the big jazz radio announcer in Boston in the 1950’s. There’s a 1953 Storyville broadcast with him on it, and he conducted the somewhat famous radio interview with Paul Desmond and Charlie Parker.
      The first two tracks on the ‘At Storyville 1954’ album are allegedly from December 1953 at Storyville, when Ron Crotty was still the bassist. They were recorded on an amateur recording device and they sound like it.
      Thanks for the recording dates for this track! The fact that you found the other tracks recorded during this broadcast is unbelievable. I’m sure Columbia recorded it, or at least has tapes of it.

  2. Upon further investigation, I have come across an apparent January 24, 1954 run through of Don’t Worry About Me from Storyville as well.

  3. Just upon doing a little more digging in my resources. It appears the (possible) last time Don’t Worry About Me was recorded was in concert in Stratford, Ontario, Canada in 1956.

  4. It appears the date for the Stratford concert was August 3, 1956. It was recorded by the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation). I would imagine that if any more of this were to be released “officially” (as there are bootlegs of this circulating), Columbia would have to obtain permission from the CBC.

    1. Bootlegs? I know Columbia released one song from it officially in 1957, but are there possibly other tracks from this performance floating around, possibly in Canada only?

    1. Ah! I have this album, with a few more titles added on. From my own research, I’ve pinned down the sources and dates for all but three of the tracks. The earliest is from 1951, the latest from 1955. The version of ‘Don’t Worry Bout Me’ on this album comes from the Newport Jazz Festival of 1955 (, as does “Shish Kebab” (really an improvised blues like ‘Back Bay Blues’) and ‘Royal Garden Blues’, which is just the middle and end of ‘Crazy Chris’. The entire set is on Concert Vault and YouTube. Here’s the original version, minus the edited ending found on most bootlegs.

      ‘How High The Moon’ is from a 1951 radio broadcast from Birdland.

      If you haven’t already, i suggest that you jump in the time machine and check out that entire playlist on YouTube.

      The others sound like either radio broadcasts, bootlegs from an audience member, or both. From what I can tell, they were recorded around 1954 or ’55, probably at Basin Street. That ‘Fair Lady’ is one bootleggers rather humorous twist on ‘Fare Thee Well, Annabelle’. It’s got some great solos by Paul and Dave. I uploaded it on YouTube a while back in hopes that someone could pin the correct info down.

      It all encourages and discourages my hopes that the actual Canadian tapes from 1956 are out there. I believe Brubeck had them in his personal collection. Marathon comment over!

  5. Thank you for acquiring this and putting it on YouTube. I have wanted to hear it for more than 55 years. When I first contacted Doug Ramsey to thank him for his biography of PD, my first question to him was whether he had this recording, which he did not. I would have grabbed it immediately on eBay as you did but I never found it there.

    As welcome as it is, it’s now slightly disappointing, as due to the Columbia liner notes I always assumed that it would be in a vein similar to that of the JGTC version. Perhaps there really was a version recorded at Cincinnati, and for certain there were tracks on the tapes from which the JGTC selections were taken that were never released. Will we ever hear any of these? Not likely, it would seem, but I’d sure like to be able to.

    1. I’m glad could help fulfill your years-long wish to hear this. Like you said, it was kind of anticlimactic once I listened to it since I assumed it would be a college recording. I’m convinced that there are numerous tapes of live Brubeck appearances at colleges alone in the vaults and in the family’s collection. I’d love to hear them. The Library of Congress in Washington DC has quite a few tapes of the Quartet that are worth checking out.

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