Dave Brubeck Jazz Goes to College (1954) Columbia

(Post dedicated to John, who’s been nagging me to blog this record for ages. Cheers!)

Selection 1: Le Souk (recorded at Oberlin College, OH)

Selection 2. Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me (Recorded at University of Michigan OH)


Paul Desmond (as) Dave Brubeck (p) Bob Bates (b) Joe Dodge (d) recorded May 1954  at Universities of Michigan, Cincinnati  and  Oberlin College, OH.

Brubeck Chronology: Jazz At Oberlin (1953); Jazz Goes To College (1954);Jazz Impressions Of U.S.A.(1956); Brubeck – In Europe (1958); Gone With The Wind (1959); Time Out (1959); Countdown Time In Outer Space (1961); Time Further Out (1961)

1954US tests first atomic bomb ; Marilyn Monroe marries baseball player Joe DiMaggio; Brown v.Board of Education Supreme Court rules segregated schools unconstitutional; last new episode of The Lone Ranger aired (Tonto files lawsuit against masked man for unfair dismissal); the first Burger King opens.


Hot on the heels of “Jazz at Oberlin”, Columbia Records issued a second album of material cut during Brubeck’s Spring 1954 tour of college campuses. His first quartet, with Bob Bates (bass), and Joe Dodge (drums),  produced what many consider as the most memorable music in Brubeck’s long discography.

Brubeck TimeFollowing the album’s release, the quartet was featured on the cover of Time magazine, with the accompanying article describing Brubeck as “the most exciting new jazz artist at work today”. Jazz Goes to College was said to have enjoyed popularity among, surprisingly, college students, possibly less so with hepcats in need of something stronger than “a dry Martini”: perhaps too white and too square? Not on drugs, and they call themselves musicians?

It seems there are two schools of thought : those who consider Brubeck’s greatest achievement is his inventive play on time-signatures at the end of the decade, and those more enamoured of this earlier emerging West Coast school of cool. There is of course a third school, who don’t rate Brubeck as a piano player, and an overlapping fourth school, who think this music is really the fruit of the Paul Desmond Quartet and not the Brubeck figure-head at all. There is a fifth school that dismiss West Coast jazz as boring, and there are probably other schools if you think long enough about it. But if you are going to dislike Jazz Goes to College, note, it has to be for the right reasons, otherwise it doesn’t count.

Vinyl: Columbia CL 566 US first release 1954, deep groove red label/ gold print, 179gm

The earliest and definitely heaviest Columbia I have seen, (Hat tip – some labels were kindly added recently to the Columbia Label Guide collection by Joe L) Matrix codes for those who speak Columbian 1J (9th cutting) and 1K (10th cutting). For good measure, I think it is a Kakabushi frame construction cover.

It’s worth remembering what a record like this would have been played on in the early  Fifties: the player illustrated is probably even a few years more modern. That arm tracks at anywhere between 10 and 20 grams, designed to destroy vinyl. Consider it a miracle if its got just a few clicks and pops




Collectors Corner.

A chance trip up town, drop into a popular vinyl haunt in Soho,  a chance flick through the new arrivals, and WHAO!  Brubeck Quartet, 1954, original 1st US press, WHOA! I could hardly believe it. Graded as “Good” due to surface hairlines, nothing a good stylus and cartridge can’t handle, priced in single figures. WHOA! After being bounced $37 for postage with compulsory tracking from the US, I walk into this baby. WHOA! Payback.

This is one of the joys of record shopping, a pleasant relief from constantly being scooped on Ebay by wealthy collectors from around the world, always someone else with more money to throw. And a complete surprise, you just never know what’s round the corner. (In Soho, usually a speeding cyclist, on the wrong side of the road)

4 thoughts on “Dave Brubeck Jazz Goes to College (1954) Columbia

  1. These recordings were issued on the 12-inch version (shown) and two 10-inch LPs. I have all three recordings. Columbia also did similar packaging with a Buck Clayton album, and M-G-M did the same with Woody Herman at Carnegie Hall (1946).

  2. This is a great copy. I always thought ‘Le Souk’ sounded familiar, and then one day it hit me: It’s the same chords to ‘Let’s Fall In Love’!

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