LIVE: Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play @ Universal Preservation Hall, 7/22/16
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
UPH has had a long relationship with the musical Brubeck brothers and decided to feature them in two separate concerts for this summer’s Live! Music Series. Last month, drummer Dan Brubeck‘s Quartet played the Hall in a program that featured compositions written and performed by their late mother and father, Dave & Iola Brubeck.
This month’s performance featured multi-instrumentalist Chris Brubeck leading a drummerless trio that featured guitarist/Skidmore College professor Joel Brown and harmonica player extraordinaire Peter Madcat Ruth.
Compositions performed included everything from original singer-songwriter compositions by Brown to “Take Five” and Blue Rondo a la Turk,” made famous by Dave Brubeck. Also included in the mix were Muddy Waters’ classic “Rolling & Tumbling” and a pair of vintage Robert Johnson compositions, “Phonograph Blues” and “Crossroads Blues.” All of these songs were given the “Triple Play treatment” – in other words, none of these covers were done in a traditional way.
All of the playing had the polish of conservatory-trained musicians, deftly balanced with the passion and improvisation of jazz musicians.
Chris was indeed a triple-threat, playing trombone, electric bass and piano. Joel Brown played clean crisp notes. Peter Madcap Ruth was hard to classify, playing classical like notes and runs one moment, then switching to the whoops and hollers of country blues harp stylings of Sonny Terry the next. All three also contributed vocals.
They were clearly having fun with the music, and so was the audience. In spite of the lack of air conditioning, most of the audience stayed for both sets.
The next performance in the Universal Preservation Hall concert series will feature the eclectic Howard Fishman and his band is at 7:30pm on Friday, August 19. Tickets are $25 in advance; $30 at the door.