by Robert Wilkinson
Yes, the Master of Cool Jazz would have been 93 today. Today we have some great videos of great performances.
Dave Brubeck (December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012) was a jazz pianist and composer, and according to wiki, was generally considered to be one of the foremost exponents of progressive jazz. During his life he received so many awards, honorary degrees, and accolades from both his peers and the press that it’s impossible to describe how loved he was and is.
I had the privilege of meeting him in Austin when I was a very young man, and he was perfectly elegant, charming, and way cool. He was totally focused on who he was with and whatever was coming down, and was as genuine and classy a person as I’ve ever met. Again, way cool.
I shared this with you on Paul Desmond’s birthday a few days back, but it bears re-posting here.
From Wikipedia, “Following the conclusion of World War II, Desmond started working ... with Brubeck at the Geary Cellar in San Francisco. Desmond soon hired Brubeck, but cut his pay in half and then replaced him altogether after taking him along to Graegle at The Feather River Inn for gigs; this was done so Desmond could gamble in nearby Reno. In 1950 Desmond left for New York City playing alto and clarinet for Jack Fina, but returned to California after hearing Brubeck's trio on the radio.”
The story of their encounter is somewhat humorous. Brubeck — married with three children and holding a grudge from his earlier experience with Desmond — instructed his wife Iola not to let him set foot in his house. But Desmond came to his home in San Francisco one day while Dave was out back hanging diapers on a laundry line, and Iola let him in and took him to Brubeck. Apparently all the begging in the world would not convince Brubeck to hire him, at least not until Desmond offered to babysit Brubeck's children.”
“... After convincing Brubeck to hire him following his stint with Jack Fina, the two had a contract drafted (of which Brubeck was the sole signatory); the language forbade Brubeck from ever firing him, ensured Brubeck's status as group leader, and gave Desmond twenty percent of all profits generated from the quartet. That is how the Dave Brubeck Quartet had its start, a group that began in 1951 and ended in December 1967.”
I turned on to the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the early 60s, and was totally hooked! At this point, I’ll just let his music speak for itself. Enjoy the Master at his craft!
First, some great live performances!
From 1953 in his very early days at the College of the Pacific, the Dave Brubeck Trio performing "Laura"
From 1961 on the Jazz Casual tv show, at 50 minute set of The original Dave Brubeck Quartet featuring Paul on alto sax, accompanied by syndicated jazz columnist Ralph J. Gleason, doing their greatest hit, “Take Five”
(The Dave Brubeck Quartet is made up of Dave Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on sax, Joe Morello on drums, and Gene Wright on bass).
From 1959 at the University of Rome, the Quartet in a live performance of “These Foolish Things”
In a strangely psychedelic video in 1962 from “The Lively Ones" showing the quartet superimposed flying above an LA freeway, here’s they are performing the pioneering 9/8 time signature shifts of “Blue Rondo A la Turk”
Here’s a treat! From BBC television in 1964, here’s 24 minutes of the DBQ at their best!! Dave Brubeck Quartet Live on the BBC - 1964
From 1966’s “Jazz Gehört und Gesehen” in Germany, a complete 33 minute set of the Dave Brubeck Quartet doing “Take the A Train,” “Forty Days,” “I’m in A Dancing Mood,” “Koto Song,” and “Take Five.”
If you don’t want to sit through the entire show, as good as it is, if you’re just into one number, here’s “Take Five”
I assembled some studio versions of maximum cool!
From 1971, the Dave Brubeck Trio with Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan guesting in a great live 10 minute video of “All the Things You Are”
For the closer of today’s birthday tribute, here are 5 from the great 1964 Dave Brubeck Quartet album “Jazz Impressions of Japan:”
For the encore, I found all the tracks from the 1963 album “The Dave Brubeck Quartet at Carnegie Hall.” This concert has been called the best performance of the band’s career, so enjoy! And yes, they’re in order of the set list.
An incredibly up tempo version of this song which closed the set, "Take Five"
RIP Dave and thanks for giving our world a more beautiful selection of sounds than existed before you. You made our world a better place for living your life and sharing your tremendous talent. Aum and blessings, piano Master.
On a different note - literally! – I didn’t have time to do full birthday tributes to two more who share this day, guitarist Peter Buck (December 6, 1956) of REM and the great David Ossman (December 6, 1936) of the legendary Firesign Theater.
You can find more about the Firesign Theater, one of the funniest comedy troupes in history, at the bottom of the birthday tribute to Felix Cavaliere, who shares a birthday with the late great Peter Bergman, also of the Firesign Theater. You'll find links to the first two Firesign Theater albums "Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him" and "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?" Still very funny, and not dated in the least!
I’ll try to do a fitting tribute to Peter Buck next year, but for now here’s a couple of their best!
And here's a fitting statement as we rock on down to the end of the Mayan Calendar, “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)"
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson