The ‘Two’ are Darius Brubeck and Mike Rossi; the ‘Four’ refers to The Darius Brubeck Quartet with Mike Rossi on saxophones and clarinet, Matt Ridley on bass and Wesley Gibbens on drums, the same line-up that recorded For Lydia and the Lion in 2008. Darius and Dr Michael Rossi, to give his full title, have been to-ing and fro-ing between South Africa and London and the States for many years. Darius, Matt and Wes, (although not always with Mike), continue to play numerous successful gigs together around the UK and further afield, including playing concerts in Saudi Arabia early in 2011. The group seems now an established attraction, growing musically and in popularity, so as manager and producer I had been hoping for a chance to make a new CD for some time.
The Quartet numbers on ‘To and Fro’ come from a concert recording made in May 2010 at the Hungarian Theatre, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Darius was teaching as a Fulbright Professor at the Gheorghe Dima Academy of Music, in Transylvania for one semester and the Quartet was invited to perform there near the end of Darius’ term. Mike came from South Africa and Matt and Wes from London. The head of the Academy generously provided equipment and a technician. In the spirit of cultural exchange, a famous Romanian jazz vocalist, Teodora Enache, featured live with the Darius Brubeck Quartet and contributed greatly to the concerts being a success. The Hungarian theatre itself proved ideal; a traditional hall seating around 700.
The Quartet also made a late night appearance at the elite, subterranean Diesel Club where I took the cover pictures. The back cover photo (left) shows the band in the club’s vaulted venue several levels below ground. The front cover (top) shows Mike and Darius in vintage-Sinatra mode, at one of the club’s bars at around 3am after the gig.
The pop-culture association of crypts, vampires and Transylvania is inescapable, so Darius admits he thought of ‘The Darius Brubeck Quartet: Un-Dead in Transylvania’ as a possible title, which I vetoed.
He did feel he was extremely fortunate to find a piano that could evoke a Dodge City saloon for ‘Old Cowhand’, an elegant, chandeliered restaurant that had survived successive waves of Nazi and Soviet occupation for ‘Mitteleuropa’ and a store-front church for ‘Better get it in Your Soul.’
We had some doubts about using this recording, but the audience clapping and stomping along to ‘Better Get It’ and the good rapport between musician and listener made the experience too special not to want to hear it again, whatever the flaws.
Darius is still an Honorary Artist-in-Residence at UKZN where he taught from 1983 – 2005 and to complete the album, I suggested that Mike meet Darius in Durban, while we were there and record some duets at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Music Studio.
Darius Brubeck Quartet concert recorded May 7, 2010 by Ovidiu Barbu at the Hungarian Theatre, Cluj-Napoca, Romania with kind assistance from Gheorghe Dima Academy of Music. Darius and Mike duets recorded April 16, 2011 by Jürgen Bräuninger at the School of Music, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. Mixed and mastered by Joe Leach at The Cowshed, London, UK. Photos: Cathy Brubeck. (Diesel Club, Cluj). Produced by Cathy and Darius Brubeck. Thanks to Steve Joyce at Valentine Music. Visit dariusbrubeck.com for further information. C. and P. Copyright 2011 Darius Brubeck