125. Dave Brubeck Quartet / Dave Digs Disney (1957)
For all its thunder and snark, the Brubeck quartet improvised with a childlike curiosity, and Brubeck and Desmond both employed a genuinely sentimental touch with ballads. Maybe it's the music's built-in humor and romance, but I sense something very natural about this group covering Disney songs. Of course, the band was no stranger to the material, so there's the easy explanation, but they're clearly enjoying it. "Alice in Wonderland" is a breezy treat, with Desmond blowing blues into his explorations of the theme before trading jabs with Brubeck. "Heigh-Ho" is rendered at an uptempo clip and with a tough tone by Desmond before a romp by Morello. But it's shortest piece on the album and for all its perkiness, it's almost a footnote. A few pieces retrospectively transcend the Disney brand such as "When You Wish Upon a Star," or "Some Day My Prince will Come." The latter would eventually be made famous by Miles Davis, and is a further example of Brubeck's prescience. I overlooked this set for a long time because I thought it was a novelty act, but I was dead wrong. For further examples of Disney jazz, try Disney Songs the Satchmo Way, Everybody Wants to be a Cat, or Sun Ra's reverently maniacal settings of "Heigh Ho" and "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," among others.