Dave Brubeck this weekend. In what was billed as “The First Jazz Concert at Penn State”, recorded by the Penn State Jazz Club on March 19, 1955 and issued as a private lp.
Much as America‘s embrace of Rock n’ Roll in the 1950s was not instant, the same pretty much held true for what was termed Modern Jazz at the time. We’d like to think that, once Thelonious Monk or Miles Davis appeared, everything that went before was forgotten about and abandoned. Same thing with Elvis Presley. That just wasn’t the case. Like anything that has proven to be revolutionary in our society, there is resistance at first, along with derision and backlash.
But sooner or later, the ones protesting are the ones who eventually come around, or they are convinced by softer messengers. Not to say that Dave Brubeck was a reasonable facsimile of Monk, but that Brubeck wasn’t as challenging to the uninitiated ear as Monk often was.
Because of that, many people who had not been exposed to Modern Jazz cite Brubeck as their first encounter – the kick-off which led to the journey. Like they say, it doesn’t matter who the messenger is, just as long as the message gets through.
This concert features Brubeck, along with Paul Desmond on Alto, Bob Bates on bass and Joe Dodge on drums. It’s an earlier lineup from what became the iconic quartet (bass and drums eventually were Eugene Wright and Joe Morello). But it is the essence of Cool Jazz and one which would define Brubeck as a leading exponent of the genre for the rest of his career.
I suspect there aren’t very many people out there who aren’t familiar with Dave Brubeck – he was one of the very first jazz artists to have a million selling album and single and his music has been featured just about everywhere. So even if you don’t know who it is, you know the sound. Well now you can identify the sound with the people.
Crank it up and enjoy.