Taking a decided turn for the Cool this weekend with a 1966 concert by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring Paul Desmond on sax, Joe Morello and drums and Gene Wright on bass. Broadcast live (at the time) and preserved by the BBC in November 1966.
For those of you just getting your feet wet in Jazz, or are finding your way around this labyrinth of amazing Music, here’s some background on Dave Brubeck via the Dave Brubeck website:
Dave Brubeck, designated a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, was one of the most active and popular musicians in both the jazz and classical worlds. With a career that spanned over six decades, his experiments in odd time signatures, improvised counterpoint, polyrhythm and polytonality remain hallmarks of innovation.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s recordings and concert appearances on college campuses in the ‘50s and early ‘60s introduced jazz to thousands of young people. The Quartet’s audiences were not limited to students, however. The group played in jazz clubs in every major city and toured in package shows with such artists as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzerald, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz. The Dave Brubeck Quartet repeatedly won top honors in trade magazines and critic’s and reader’s polls. In 1954 Dave Brubeck’s portrait appeared on the cover of Time Magazine with a story about the jazz renaissance and Brubeck’s phenomenal ascendancy.
In 1958 the Quartet made their first of many international tours. The U.S. State Department sponsored the Quartet’s performances in Poland, India, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. Exposure to many different cultures was reflected in the group’s repertoire that sometimes incorporated exotic elements. The 1959 recording “Time Out” experimented in time signatures beyond the usual jazz 4/4. To everyone’s surprise “Time Out” became the first jazz album to sell over a million copies and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Take Five” (now in the Grammy Hall of Fame) began to appear on jukeboxes throughout the world.
Early in his career Brubeck wrote primarily for this Quartet, and some of those pieces, such as “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke” became part of standard jazz repertoire. His first orchestral composition, “Elementals“, written for an improvising jazz combo and symphony orchestra was premiered and recorded in 1962. Choreographed by Lar Lubovitch, “Elemental Brubeck” is currently in the repertoire of the San Francisco Ballet and several other dance companies.
Throughout his career Brubeck experimented with integrating jazz into classical forms. In 1959 his Quartet premiered and recorded his brother Howard’s “Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra” with the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein conducting. In 1960 he composed “Points on Jazz” for the American Ballet Theatre, and in later decades composed for and toured with the Murray Louis Dance Company. His musical theater piece “The Real Ambassadors” starring Louis Armstrong and Carmen McRae was recorded and performed to great acclaim at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival.
I could go on, but I would urge you to check out the Brubeck site to get the full rundown instead. Besides, those of you who already know have skipped it anyway and are probably five minutes into the concert by now.
Enjoy – it’s Sunday after all.