Legacy of a Legend

They say that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was once an American jazz quartet that released multiple albums a year: records that sold in droves, actually making money for the companies that released them. The quartet traveled around the world performing in sold-out venues from Paducah to Tokyo. The pianist leader of the band found himself on the cover of Time magazine, while the saxophonist had to be content with dating Audrey Hepburn. The band's signature song became a pop hit that soon transformed itself into a ubiquitous muzak-ready standard familiar to multitudes who couldn't tell you how to spell the word "jazz" let alone explain what it is… And then I woke up—was it all a dream?

 

Not quite, and we have the still active, soon to be 90-year-old Dave Brubeck to remind us that the original Dave Brubeck Quartet was the most popular jazz ensemble of the 1950s and early '60s. That Brubeck, for all his fame and fortune, lacks the enduring cultural cachet and critical credentials of, say, Duke Ellington or Miles Davis, is a given. There's something too timely, too circumscribed about the tightly controlled jazz vibe and self-conscious experimentation of Brubeck's music to have it remain vibrantly contemporaneous. This is cool jazz, which—unlike that of Chet Baker and Stan Getz—has not remained cool.

 

And yet, as this basic Brubeck primer honoring the nonagenarian reminds us, the charms of the leader's alternately lyrical and eccentric piano, the precise rhythmic purr of bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello, and, above all, the gentle-toned yet incisively melodic improvisations of star saxophonist Paul Desmond (the composer of the band's mega-hit "Take Five") remain hard to resist. Brubeck's music may not always reach out across the decades and shake our collars with its tactile strength, but the dustbins of bygone taste will never be its rightful home. 

Comments
by mcdonas1 on ‎03-28-2011 05:50 AM

The most gifted musician and human being I have met in my lifetime. It seems like yesterday when I first met him at the former Hynes Auditorium in Boston, Ma. Dave standing idely by observing the scene. Eugene Wright smiling broadly,Joe Morello chatting up people and Paul Desmond,seemiingly in deep thought about a new arrangement. What a thrill for me..one never to be matched.Just a few years ago I heard  the current Bruebeck quartet at Berklee Performance Ceneter in Boston. His charm and humaness cntinues today.....After a break in the performance...Bruebeck rerurns to the stage wearing an overcoat....auidence is wondering whats up...Dave says, Dont worry Im not leaving...but there's an   air vent  blowing on the piano and I didnt want to move the piano. The one of a kind talent lives on. The uniqiue Brubeck sound lifts my soul and turns me into a jazz addict all over again every time I hear him touch the melocic keys.

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