D. Brubeck, Nocturnes, John Salmon
With postcards you have to confine yourself to a few descriptive sentences to convey a mood – helped by a picture on the front. Then you scrawl in the corner: See you soon. Best Wishes. Love. That’s what Blue Lake Taho, Strange Meadowlark, and Koto Song do. Simple, to the point, successful like any good postcard: You get a glimpse of the place and the mood.
John Salmon’s caring performances don’t try to pretend complexity where there is none. Instead he contents himself to let simplicity and the varying rhythms speak for themselves. It all makes for very gratifying listening. But is it Jazz or is it “Classical”? If you listen, the question seems pointless. But for categorization’s sake: it’s “Classical”. Even if Bluette, Quiet as the Moon, and A Girl named Oli have their Jazz patronage written all over them, mild wafts of Chopin and even Debussy send it further to the “Classical” category than, say, Nikolai Kapustin’s works. (The latter’s fiendishly complex works, much less concerned with lyricism and representing the very other extreme of Jazz-influenced classical piano music, are worth exploring, by the way.)
Unlike so many other musicians from non-classical genres (Roger Waters, Paul McCartney – to mention only the worst offenders), Brubeck seems to have an innate musical standard that he cannot disown, no matter the style of music he delves into. I don’t suppose there is anyone who has not heard Brubeck’s music at some point… Jazz or otherwise. Time Out is as much a classic as Kind of Blue, the Köln Concert, and Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations. If you like Brubeck there – and if you are not afraid of skilled simplicity - the Nocturnes will appeal.