Friday, April 21, 2006

Odd Spin 4/21: Darius Brubeck’s Chaplin’s Back

Chaplin’s Back
Keyboards, leader: DB
Clarinet: Perry Robinson
Bass clarinet: Robert Fritz
Tenor sax: Michael Brecker
Cello: Richard Bock
Fender bass: John Miller
Drums, percussion: Muruga
Guitars: Bob Rose, Amos Garrett
Label: Paramount

The story: Arranging a theme album around a silent movie star sounds like a counter-intuitive idea, but Darius Brubeck, son of jazz legend Dave Brubeck, shows some real interest in Chaplin’s songs, including the classic “Smile” (as in “even though your heart is aching”). The younger Brubeck would soon permanently emigrate to South Africa, where he became a leader of the underground jazz scene and a prominent anti-Apartheid activist. Jazz would again be associated with freedom and rebellion, as it was in National Socialist Germany and Communist Eastern Europe. Not surprisingly, many South African jazz artists, like Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela were forced to live in exile.

The bottom line: This is a decent session (his adaptation of the theme from The Great Dictator is particularly appealing in a funky way), but hardly represents Brubeck’s lasting legacy in South Africa. You should be able to find it for something under $10, and it’s probably worth it.