I knew even if I’m a cowboy, I’m going to be involved in jazz in some way.
This week, we are highlighting pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, as the jazz world celebrates his centennial, with what would have been his 100th birthday on December 6th!
Dave Brubeck (1920 – 2012)
Pianist and composer Dave Brubeck was born December 6, 1920 in Concord, California. While he became one of the most revered figures in the genre, Brubeck initially wanted to become a rancher like his father. While studying veterinary science, one of his professors said to him; “Brubeck, your mind’s not here. It’s across the lawn in the conservatory. Please go there. Stop wasting my time and yours.” Brubeck’s studies in music were limited because of his inability to read music well–his other skills were such that his teachers agreed to let him graduate under the stipulation that he never teach piano!
Brubeck’s piano style was noteworthy for his use of block chords to harmonize his melodic offerings, and his playing and ensembles epitomized the Cool/West Coast approach to jazz.
With Paul Desmond, Joe Morello, and Eugene Wright, the Dave Brubeck Quartet was formed in the 1950’s. For this group, Brubeck wrote/co-wrote some of jazz’s most requested songs–”Take Five,” “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” “The Duke,” and “In Your Own Sweet Way.” His album Time Out was staggeringly popular–cresting at #2 on the Billboard Pop Music Album List, and contained time signatures as of yet unexplored in jazz music.
During his long career, Brubeck was one of the most decorated jazz musicians in history, and, later in life, he appeared regularly with five of his six children (Chris, Darius, Matthew, Dan, and Michael Brubeck), all fabulous musicians in their own right. He died the day before his 92nd birthday, in 2012, but left behind an incredible musical legacy.
Take a listen…
Here are some Dave Brubeck tunes – a mix of favorites and, perhaps, something new to discover!
- The ultimate, “Take Five”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- Another classic, “The Duke”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- “Koto,” a piece inspired by his travels to Japan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- From a recently released album, inspired by his grandchildren, here is “Lullabies for Lola”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Want to learn more about Dave Brubeck? Here are some additional resources, celebrating his life:
- In 1999, Brubeck was a guest on Fresh Air. You can listen to his interview with Dave Davies here: https://www.npr.org/2020/12/
04/942949661/celebrating-the- life-and-music-of-jazz- pianist-and-composer-dave- brubeck
- In 2008, the Library of Congress had a conversation with him, which you can watch here: https://www.loc.gov/item/
- To celebrate his life and centennial, The Mercury News has a remembrance: https://www.mercurynews.com/
2020/12/02/dave-brubeck-at- 100-jazz-legends-impact-on- music-culture-ranges-far-and- wide/
The CJO Little Big Band
Catch the livestream of the CJO Little Big Band @ the Bop Stop Friday.
Featuring Ernie Krivda, saxophone & Evelyn Wright, vocals
December 11th at 8 p.m.
Have a great week.
Don’t forget to share the music!