Dave Brubeck is one of those artists that whenever I’ve delved into the recordings just a bit, I’ve thought, “Wow, this is wonderful stuff…gotta explore this more,” but for some reason, perhaps pocketbook-related, just never did. Sure I have the greatest hits collection with “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” on it…but there’s much more…heard a particularly fine double live album of his once. Saw him play at Skidmore College a couple of years ago…the occasion was a concert by his son’s trio or whatever. They were fine, but sorry, the big excitement was when Dave walked out and hit that first note. Two bars in, and everything was swingin’ at a level it just hadn’t been before…the voice of authority, coming from a feeble old man who could barely walk out onto the stage.
And now he’s exited the stage of this world.
Too busy today to say much more, but of course Scott Johnson at Powerline has the goods, including a link to good stuff from Bill McClay, who as I saw last weekend at the Berry pop-culture conference, keeps the Brubeck recordings ready at hand for the car stereo.
Again, I am probably speaking without requisite knowledge, but my sense is that like Stan Kenton, but really better, this was one of the jazz composers who brushed up more seriously and successfully than most against the body of classical music.
That is, back in Rock Songbook #43, I did not just have Duke Ellington in mind, but Brubeck also, when I quoted Ralph Ellison thusly:
I have no idea where we will all be a hundred years from now, but if there is a classical music in which the American experience has finally discovered the voice of its own complexity, it will owe much of its direction to the achievements of Edward William Ellington.
Dave, too, I suspect. And now let us hope he’s swingin’ up there with The Duke.
Update: And more good stuff hereabouts on First Thoughts. The man was a faithful Catholic and did compose sacred music. Any who know more, especially on the sacred music, please chime in!