By Paul Wells - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 0 Comments
I did the thing today I sometimes do that baffles my editors. One of them emailed about Dave Brubeck’s death and asked whether I’d like to write about him. I’m the jazz guy, after all, to the extent we have one, and Brubeck was the rare jazz musician everyone loved. But I passed. I have never been a fan of Brubeck’s piano playing. (I’ll get back to that.) I thought that in his later years he didn’t surround himself with impressive or even consistently coherent bands. I reviewed him twice for The Gazette in Montreal, not kindly. I was intrigued to be reminded that he had the baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan in his band for a bit in the 1970s. That must have been tense: Mulligan usually insisted on the refinement and closely-calibrated group dynamics I don’t associate with late-period Brubeck.
But anyone who had the early career Brubeck had has earned any kind of late career he wants. His great quartet with Paul Desmond, Joe Morello and Gene Wright was as virtuous and influential as any in jazz in the 1950s and 1960s. It rose to prominence at a time when a lot of musicians were wondering what kind of next step jazz could take after the obvious possibilities of bebop — jetting velocity, rich harmony, accents in odd places — had been explored by hundreds of musicians for more than a decade. Different musicians had different answers. Miles Davis slowed the pace of harmonic change. Art Blakey and Horace Silver heightened the music’s blues and gospel overtones. A few years later, Ornette Coleman would edge toward an emancipation from much of the music’s rule book. The pianist Lennie Tristano and his small circle dove deeper into the rule book, working obsessively with a small group of standard tunes until they could take them in any direction.
Brubeck’s direction is suggested by the title of one of his early albums, Jazz Goes to College. Continue…
By Rosemary Westwood - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 5:47 PM - 0 Comments
Fans celebrate the life of legendary jazz pianist
On Wednesday morning, en route to see his cardiologist with his son, jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck died of heart failure, according to his manager-producer.
He died in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was just one day shy of his 92nd birthday. “Pianist Dave Brubeck’s gift for timing endures,” wrote Chris Barton of the LA Times.
An international jazz legend, Brubeck gained mainstream popularity with the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the 1950s and 1960s. Time Out, the album containing the quintessential track Take Five, is ranked among the best – and best-selling – jazz albums of all time.
Brubeck dedicated his musical career to experimenting with rhythm and tone. When he ended the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the late 1960s, he composed music that took inspiration from the bible. He wrote for TV and films and later formed a band with three of his sons.
On Dec. 20, 2011, he wrote to his fans:
“I celebrated my 91st birthday just two weeks ago today. As Eubie Blake remarked on his 100th birthday, “If I’d known I was gonna live this long I would have taken better care of myself.” Although I have retired from touring, I’m still at the piano every day and am thinking about doing another solo piano album of wonderful old tunes that most people have forgotten. It seems I’m about the only one left who still remembers them.”
“I am so grateful to all of you who have followed my music through the years and surprised and happy when young listeners tell me they have discovered and like my music. I hope this will lead them to explore more of the great jazz legacy.”
Brubeck leaves behind his wife, Iola, six children, and an extensive discography.