December 5, 2012

TAKE FIVE, DAVE (via Glenn Dryfoos)

-Dave Brubeck, Who Helped Put Jazz Back in Vogue, Dies at 91 (BEN RATLIFF, December 5, 2012, NY Times)
For all his conceptualizing, Mr. Brubeck often seemed more guileless and stubborn country boy than intellectual. It is often noted that his piece "The Duke" -- memorably recorded by Miles Davis and Gil Evans in 1957 on their collaborative album "Miles Ahead" -- runs through all 12 keys in the first eight bars. But Mr. Brubeck contended that he never realized that until a music professor told him.

Mr. Brubeck's very personal musical language situated him far from the Bud Powell school of bebop rhythm and harmony; he relied more on chords, lots and lots of them, than on sizzling, hornlike right-hand lines. (He may have come by this outsiderness naturally, as a function of his background: jazz by way of rural isolation and modernist academia. He was, Ted Gioia wrote in his book "West Coast Jazz," inspired "by the process of improvisation rather than by its history.")

It took a little while for Mr. Brubeck to capitalize on the greater visibility his deal with Columbia gave him, and as he accommodated success a certain segment of the jazz audience began to turn against him. (The 1957 album "Dave Digs Disney," on which he played songs from Walt Disney movies, didn't help his credibility among critics and connoisseurs.) Still, by the end of the decade he had broken through with mainstream audiences in a bigger way than almost any jazz musician since World War II.

In 1958, as part of a State Department program that brought jazz as an offer of good will during the cold war, his quartet traveled in the Middle East and India, and Mr. Brubeck became intrigued by musical languages that didn't stick to 4/4 time -- what he called "march-style jazz," the meter that had been the music's bedrock. The result was the album "Time Out," recorded in 1959. With the hits "Take Five" (composed by Mr. Desmond in 5/4 meter and prominently featuring the quartet's gifted drummer, Joe Morello) and "Blue Rondo à la Turk" (composed by Mr. Brubeck in 9/8), the album propelled Mr. Brubeck onto the pop charts.

Initially, Mr. Brubeck said, the album was released without high expectations from the record company. But when disc jockeys in the Midwest started playing "Take Five," the song became a national phenomenon. After the album had been out for 18 months, Columbia released "Take Five" as a 45 r.p.m. single, edited for radio, with "Blue Rondo" on the B side. Both album and single became hits; The album "Time Out" has since sold about two million copies.

In 1960, realizing that most of the quartet's work centered on the East Coast, the Brubecks, with their children, Dan, Michael, Chris, Darius and Catherine, moved to Wilton, where they stayed. They later had one more child, Matthew.

Genial as Mr. Brubeck could seem, he had strong convictions. In the 1950s he had to stand up to college deans who asked him not to perform with a racially mixed band (his bassist, Gene Wright, was black). He also refused to tour in South Africa in 1958 when asked to sign a contract stipulating that his band would be all white. With his wife as lyricist, he wrote "The Real Ambassadors," a jazz musical that dealt with race relations. With a cast that included Louis Armstrong, it was released on LP in 1962 but staged only once, at that year's Monterey Jazz Festival.

When Mr. Brubeck's quartet broke up in 1967, after 17 years, he spent more time with his family and followed new paths. In 1969 he composed "Elementals" (subtitled "Concerto for Anyone Who Can Afford an Orchestra"), a concerto grosso for 45-piece ensemble. He later wrote an oratorio and four cantatas, a mass, two ballets and works for jazz combo with orchestra. Most of his commissioned pieces from the late '60s on, many of them collaborations with his wife, whose contributions included lyrics and librettos, were classical works.

As a composer, Mr. Brubeck used jazz to address religious themes and to bridge social and political divides. His cantata "The Gates of Justice," from 1969, dealt with blacks and Jews in America; another cantata, "Truth Is Fallen" (1972), lamented the killing of student protesters at Kent State University in 1970, with a score including orchestra, electric guitars and police sirens. He played during the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting in 1988 and he composed entrance music for Pope John Paul II's visit to Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1987.

In 1968 he formed a quartet with the baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, and later he began working with his musician sons Darius (a pianist), Chris (a bassist), Dan (a drummer) and Matthew (a cellist). He performed and recorded with them often, most definitively on "In Their Own Sweet Way" (Telarc, 1997).

    -BIO: Dave Brubeck (All Music)
    -OBIT: DAVE BRUBECK 1920-2012: Dave Brubeck: A jazz icon who reached a massive audience (Howard Reich, December 5, 2012
    -TRIBUTE: Farewell, Dave Brubeck (ROBERT SCHLESINGER, December 5, 2012, US News)
    -TRIBUTE: R.I.P. Dave Brubeck (Tom Breihan, 12/05/12, StereoGum)
    -TRIBUTE: Dave Brubeck Was Jazz's Greatest Centrist: Take five - hits from the Brubeck catalog, that is. (Matthew DeLuca, Dec 5, 2012, Daily Beast)
    -TRIBUTE: R.I.P. Jazz Titan Dave Brubeck (Larry Fitzmaurice, December 5, 2012, Pitchfork)
    -ESSAY: Dave Brubeck's Jewish cantata (Adam Soclof · December 5, 2012, JTA)
    -TRIBUTE: Dave Brubeck (1920-2012): An Appreciation (Something Else! Reviews)
    -Dave Brubeck: Making a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord: This jazz icon sought to break racial barriers, cross national boundaries and build cultural connections. Then he found the Catholic faith. (Mark Lombard, American Catholic) Posted by at December 5, 2012 8:30 PM
  
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