107. Desmond, Brubeck, Van Kriedt / Reunion (1957)
This meeting of the minds that have met before on many occasions is as relaxed as it is concise. David Van Kriedt was the tenor and collaborator in the Octet alongside Brubeck and Desmond. He continued into academia, also playing with Stan Kenton, while Brubeck and Desmond became performers. On Reunion, there are some tastes of the fugue style writing for which the Octet was famous (Bach's "Chorale," the only tune without a Van K. credit), although in the mood is, as I mentioned, quite a bit more relaxed than it was in the Octet. Back then, as the record shows, everyone seemed scrambling to out-do his last chorus. This time, while it sometimes sounds as if there's no clear leader, each man gets a fair share of time during improvisations and the music has the feel of care and balance. The group idea of musicality is very strong. Brubeck often picks up where Van Kriedt leaves off, or Desmond does, with occasional episodes that quote slyly from whatever is near at hand. It's soft, sophisticated music with occasional fireworks ("Shouts," listen for the Brubeck boulder that spins Desmond into a tizzy) and superb arrangements by Van Kriedt, like the sumptuous "Prelude." Van Kriedt's tone is smooth and full like Lester Young, and the timbre is the ideal mixer for Desmond's alto.