Jazz Goes to College

Jazz Goes to College is a 1954 album documenting the North American college tour of the Dave Brubeck Quartet.[2] It was Dave Brubeck's first album for Columbia Records.[3] He was joined by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, double bassist Bob Bates, and drummer Joe Dodge.[2] The album was re-released on CD and cassette under the Columbia imprint in 1991 and on CD by Sony International in 2000.

Jazz Goes to College
Live album by
ReleasedJune 7, 1954
GenreCool jazz, West Coast jazz[1]
ProducerGeorge Avakian
The Dave Brubeck Quartet chronology
Paul and Dave's Jazz Interwoven
Jazz Goes to College
Brubeck Time
Original LP Cover
Alternate LP cover
Alternate LP cover


The college tour, in which the group crossed the country visiting major universities and junior colleges, was conceived by Brubeck's wife Iola as a way to introduce jazz to a new audience.[4] Brubeck described encountering resistance at the colleges, some of which were reluctant to allow him to perform, but found following initial forays that the quartet was in much demand.[4] As the quartet traveled across the country, he told the Jazz Education Journal, they would play as many as 90 colleges in a four-month period.[4]


"Balcony Rock", recorded at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is a heavily improvised tune formed on an eight-bar blues led by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond.[2] "Out of Nowhere" was recorded at the University of Cincinnati and showcases Brubeck's timing, with passages that veer from atonal to melodic.[2] Recorded at Oberlin College, "Le Souk" features aggressive, frenetic piano by Brubeck, Bob Bates' propulsive double bass lines, and a firm backbeat by drummer Joe Dodge.[2] Desmond's melodies feature Middle Eastern influences.[3]

"Take the 'A' Train" has straightforward blows by Desmond and forceful interjections by Dodge.[2] "The Song Is You" showcases Desmond's lithe phrasing.[2] The quartet's reading of "Don't Worry 'Bout Me" expands on Brubeck's bluesy piano with an austere arrangement.[2] The final phrase of "I Want to Be Happy" exemplifies the quartet's energetic performance with a dramatic conclusion.[2]

Release and receptionEdit

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
AllMusic     [2]
MSN Music (Expert Witness)A[3]

Following the album's release, the quartet was featured on the cover of Time magazine, with the accompanying article describing Brubeck as "the most exciting new jazz artist at work today".[5] Jazz Goes to College enjoyed widespread popularity among college students in the 1950s and early 1960s.[6]

In a retrospective five-star review, Allmusic's Lindsay Planer called the album a "perfect representation of the Dave Brubeck Quartet's pre-Time Out (1959) antics in the preferable concert performance setting", and wrote that the quartet's "support of Brubeck is uniformly flawless, ultimately producing what many consider as the most memorable music in the artist's cannon."[2] Samuel Chell of All About Jazz viewed it as an "essential recording" of "Brubeck-Desmond's greatest period, before the comparatively sterile, more formulaic studio albums, including Time Out, and found the music "soulful, in the moment, unrepeatable", writing that "the swing is generated internally and, rather than the body responding with visceral approval, the mind rocks and reels."[7] Robert Christgau, writing for MSN Music, applauded Paul Desmond's contributions and said that, particularly on the album's standards, he is "at his lyrical best". Christgau complimented Brubeck's "blocky" solos because, "in rhythm music, blocky generally beats tinkly."[3]

Track listingEdit

  1. "Balcony Rock" (Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond) (University of Michigan) – 11:55
  2. "Out of Nowhere" (Johnny Green, Edward Heyman) (University of Cincinnati) – 8:04
  3. "Le Souk" (Brubeck, Desmond) (Oberlin College) – 4:36
  4. "Take the 'A' Train" (Billy Strayhorn) (University of Michigan) – 6:10
  5. "The Song Is You" (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) (University of Michigan) – 5:38
  6. "Don't Worry 'bout Me" (Rube Bloom, Ted Koehler) (University of Michigan) – 8:47
  7. "I Want to Be Happy" (Irving Caesar, Vincent Youmans) (University of Michigan) – 6:36
  • Location of recording included in parentheses following composer.
  • Track 3 recorded on April 14, 1954; track 4 on March 26 of the same year; recording dates of the remainder unknown.


Credits are adapted from Allmusic.[8]


  1. ^ "Jazz Goes to College : Dave Brubeck". Rhapsody. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Planer, Lindsay. "Jazz Goes to College - The Dave Brubeck Quartet". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Christgau, Robert (December 7, 2012). "Dave Brubeck". MSN Music. Microsoft. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c García, Antonio J. (November 2001) Dave Brubeck: His music keeps us here Jazz Education Journal Accessed September 27, 2007.
  5. ^ Notre Dame's highest honor goes to musician Archived 2009-08-21 at the Wayback Machine Observer News. (May 19, 2006) Accessed September 27, 2007.
  6. ^ Poppa Dave Time Magazine. (September 11, 1972) Accessed September 27, 2007.
  7. ^ Chell, Samuel (May 27, 2008). "Dave Brubeck: Jazz Goes to College (2008)". All About Jazz. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  8. ^ "Jazz Goes to College - The Dave Brubeck Quartet : Credits". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 7, 2012.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit