Christmas came early, for me anyhow. After a combo of school and lack of funds kept me away for months, I was able to make a trip down to my local record store. A few hours later, I walked out with too many records. Those records will be profiled here in the next few weeks, but now that it feels a lot more like Christmas, another Christmas edition of ‘Desmond’s Quotes’ is in order. Last time, I spotlighted how Desmond worked “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” into his solo. There’s numerous examples of him working this one Christmas ditty into different tunes, so I’ll save those for another entry. This week, I’m spotlighting a Christmas song that I still can’t believe Desmond used in his solo.
The year is 1954, and we’re somewhere in Southern California in an intimate night club. The Dave Brubeck Quartet is performing “Here Lies Love”, a tune that was something of a feature for Brubeck’s piano. There’s three recordings of the Brubeck Quartet playing this tune, and they all follow the same arrangement. Brubeck opens, Desmond plays the melody, then Brubeck takes the first round of solos before Desmond moves back in for a chorus or two. It’s a plaintive song made all the more haunting by their treatment. This particular performance (the first in their discography) was allegedly taken from a radio air-check and released on Brubeck’s second album for Columbia, ‘At Storyville 1954’.
Featuring Joe Dodge on drums and Bob Bates on bass, the radio broadcast finds the group in a reflective mood, taking the tune at a gentle walking pace. Brubeck’s solo fits the calm, half-happy half-moody song. Desmond comes sailing in after two choruses from Brubeck, maintaining the reverent mood already established. It’s towards the end of his first chorus that Desmond launches into a wonderfully and humorously-placed quote of Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy”. You can tell he was ready for that quote too, as he almost seems to draw back before delivering it with gusto, much louder than he had originally been playing. It’s a tasty example of how Desmond’s mind worked, making Tchaikovsky’s theme somehow fit into the melancholy surroundings of a completely different tune. A few bars into his second chorus, it sounds like Desmond is quoting another melody, most-likely a classical piece. It sounds vaguely familiar but I am unaware of what it is. Any ideas? As usual, the actual performance, followed by Tchaikovsky’s tune. This is one of the more obvious quotes, but still quite seamless.
For those who want to skip right to the chase (or got so lost in the music you missed it), the quote appears at the 4:18 minute mark.