The definitive recording of Dave Brubeck's entire career, people should know, are not on this new collection. The sides for which the pianist is most well-known (indeed, the tracks that make up 95% of his reputation as one of the most accessible and, kinda, weird jazz musicians) were on Columbia, and they're not here.
And it is fascinating. The early Brubeck is curious and various. There is the young man studying with Darius Milhaud who turns a standard ("The Way You Look Tonight") into an academic, mannered exercise. There is also the trendy leader of a trio who chases down the interest in Latin jazz by letting drummer Cal Tjader go crazy on bongos and, eventually, on vibes. Eventually we hear this guy encounter an alto saxophonist named Paul Desmond, and their immediate rapport creates the sound of the classic Brubeck Quartet. The first sparks of this, including some freshly improvised classical-ish counterpoint, is a marvel to hear.
If you grew up loving Dave Brubeck but have never hunted down his more obscure stuff, this could be for you. For others, the Columbia recordings remain where it's at.