There's usually no shame in nostalgia--even the most precious kind--but those who trade in nostalgia had better remember that the cherished memories of one man might not mean much to another.
Jazz legend Dave Brubeck's new solo piano album, Private Brubeck Remembers, traffics in just that sort of nostalgic dichotomy. Those who share, or are sympathetic to, Brubeck's recollections of World War II will find much to admire in this CD. Those who weren't there may not even care about the pianist's musical memories, much less recognize them.
Through such World War II-era standards as "For All We Know," "Something to Remember You By" and "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Brubeck noodles away in a maudlin fashion, employing a sort of Liberace-meets-Victor Borge showmanship composed of nimble runs and eager-to-please heartstring tugging.
Only briefly does Brubeck pull off some convincing swinging and thoughtful improvisation, during "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)" and "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie," both of which are miles more engaging than anything else here. With these cuts, at least, he leaves behind the past to create something inviting in the here and now.
Although many veterans of WWII and other conflicts on foreign soil may be interested in hearing Brubeck reminisce at length with Walter Cronkite on the second disc, it's a sadly unaffecting and indulgent recording that's got little to do with music.