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Brubeck, Dave

Dave Brubeck

Pianist, composer, bandleader

Influenced by Classical Music

European Harmony and African Rhythms

First Gold Jazz Album

Returned to Quartet Format

Selected compositions

Selected discography

Sources

According to Robert Rice of the New Yorker, the combo led by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck during the 1950s and 1960s was the worlds best-paid, most widely travelled, most highly publicized, and most popular small group. While Brubeck may be considered the worlds most widely acclaimed musician of his period, he is also quite possibly its most criticized, having been described as everything from mystical to methodical. Stanley H. White wrote in Jazz Journal in 1958 that Brubecks ability to improvise fluently on almost any given theme, and his ability to swing with both drive and imagination make him a jazz musician of singular merit; two years later Joe Goldberg declared in Jazz Review that jazz is not [Brubecks] natural form of expression, but he is determined to play jazz, as if a man who knew five hundred words of French were to attempt a novel in that language.

Perhaps Rices statement on the importance of Brubecks music, that it is impossible to make a commentpro, con, or merely factualthat would not be disputed by a majority of the people who habitually play, listen to, or write about jazz, sums up the critical commentary that surrounds Brubecks body of work. What can be asserted is that Brubeck, beyond the praise and faultfinding, beyond even the unexamined end result of his music, has always been an intelligent musician thoughtful of the process, an artist constantly seeking a new and justifiable means of creative expression.

Perhaps the most significant contribution made by the Brubeck Quartet has been the integration of jazz and classical elements, Al Zeiger noted in Metronome. But Brubecks precarious marriage of these two divergent styles has frequently offended stylists and aficionados of the pure jazz form. He cannot always maintain the balance between jazz and classical music without forsaking an element vital to either one form, White appraised in Jazz Journal. More often than not, Brubecks improvisations slip from jazz into classical colors, bringing up a little canon a la Bach or some dissonant counterpoint a la Bartok or even a thrashing crisis a la Beethoven, a reporter for Time pointed out.

Influenced by Classical Music

Brubecks tendency toward peppering his jazz speech with classical tones is rooted in his childhood. His mother, a classically trained piano teacher, was a believer in prenatal influence. She practiced all through her pregnancies, Brubeck related, according to Len Lyons in The Great Jazz Pianists: Speaking of Their Lives and Music. When we were born, we were all put near the piano to listen to her practicing. I heard Chopin, Liszt, Mozart, and Bach from infancy. While

For the Record

Born David Warren Brubeck, December 6, 1920, in Concord, CA; son of Howard (a cattle rancher) and Elizabeth (a piano teacher; maiden name, Ivey) Brubeck; married Iola Marie Whitlock, September 21, 1942; children: David Darius, Michael, Christopher, Catherine, Daniel, Matthew. Education: College of the Pacific (now University of the Pacific), B.A. in music, 1942; postgraduate study with Darius Milhaud, Mills College, 1946-49.

Began playing piano with local jazz groups in 1934; during college years played in local nightclubs; drafted into U.S. Army, 1942; sent to Europe to lead service band, 1944-46 (discharged); began recording career with the Dave Brubeck Octet, 1949; organized the Dave Brubeck Trio (with Cal Tjaderand Norman Bates), 1949-51; added Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, forming the Dave Brubeck Quartet, 1951; Brubeck and Desmond joined by Joe Morello on drums (1956) and Eugene Wright on bass (1958), creating Dave Brubeck Quartet that lasted until 1967; performed with symphony orchestras and led several quartets, 1971.Occasionally teaches at Yale University as the Duke Ellington fellow.

Selected awards: Jazz Pioneer Award, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), 1985; Compostela Humanitarian Award, 1986; Connecticut Arts Award, 1987; American Eagle Award, National Music Council, 1988; honorary doctorates from Mills College, Niagara University, and University of the Pacific.

Addresses: Home Wilton, CT. Office c/o Derry Music Co., 601 Montgomery St., Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94111; and c/o Sutton Artists Corporation, 119 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

his brothers took to classical training, Brubeck rebelled against his mothers teachings, preferring instead to make up his own songs. There can be little doubt that his original interest in jazz arose as a protest against the idea of playing notes that were written on paper instead of the notes that were in his head, Rice wrote in the New Yorker. It is noteworthy that Brubeck did not learn to read music until later in life. Because of his acute musical ear, he was able to fool his mother by reproducing any piece after listening to it once or twice.

Despite Brubecks early protestations, classical music informed his subsequent musical approach. He attested to this in an article he wrote for Down Beat at the beginning of his career: Because the jazz musician creates music, interprets music as he hears it, it is natural that his improvised compositions should reflect every kind of music to which he has been exposed. Further exposure to the classical realm came through studies with the French composer Darius Milhaud.

After graduating with a degree in music and serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Brubeck studied composition under Milhaud at Mills College for three years. From this classical instructor, Brubeck learned one important point about composing, as he explained to Michael Bourne in Down Beat: One lesson was never give up jazz. And he told me I would be a composer on my own terms. He said, If you dont reflect your own country and use the jazz idiom, youll never be a part of this culture. And, of course, Copland used it, Bernstein used it. Most of the important American composers have used jazz. But it seems that jazz was just a tool used to build his compositions, for in addition, Brubeck learned from Milhaud the usage of modern European polytonal harmonies, on which he was to base his style.

European Harmony and African Rhythms

After his apprenticeship under Milhaud, Brubeck sought a group sound for his compositions in 1949, first with an octet, then pared down to a trio. He also helped form Fantasy Records, the label on which he first recorded. But his definition of jazzan improvised musical expression based on European harmony and African rhythms, as he described it in Down Beat was not fulfilled until Brubeck added alto saxophonist Paul Desmond to the group in 1951. Desmonds yearning lyricism proved the perfect foil for Brubecks percussive approach, Amy Duncan pointed out in the Christian Science Monitor. Another indication of Brubecks keen judgement was his decision at the time to forego the nightclub circuit in favor of college campuses. The 1954 recording of one such tour, Jazz Goes to College, was the quartets breakthrough, selling over a million copies and earning Brubeck the cover of Times November 8, 1954, issue.

In Times accompanying profile Brubeck was described as a wigging cat with a far-out wail who produces some of the strangest and loveliest music ever played since jazz was born. His music and approach, which the article proclaimed heralded a new jazz age, is neither chaotic nor abandoned. It evokes neither swinging hips nor hip flasks. It goes to the head and the heart more than to the feet.

But accompanying the rising acclaim was also rising derision. The debate over the purpose and sound of jazz divided the critical camps. Metronomes Zeiger lauded Brubecks technique: his texture has a refinement and lightness to it which, at times, is characteristic of the grace and elegance of Mozart; but Jazz Journals White stressed that the unavoidable lack of beat, the absence of the jazz spiritthese indispensable jazz attributesbring defeat to an otherwise highly intelligent and musicianly artist. Dave Gelly, writing in his book The Giants of Jazz, summed up the reasons for critical disapproval: Brubecks studious manner, his copious references to Milhaud and Hindemith in press interviews, his little lectures at concerts on how very complicated and demanding the next number was going to be, his quotations from Bach, the galloping pomposity of his piano solos. The public, however, continued its almost unanimous approval of the quartet. The fact that it is admired by the public may explain the fact that it is scorned by many of the adepts, Pice assessed in the New Yorker. Popular is an extreme [negative] in certain jazz circles.

First Gold Jazz Album

With the substitution of Joe Morello on drums and Eugene Wright on bass in the late 1950s, Brubeck formed the classic Dave Brubeck Quartet, which performed unchanged for almost ten years. Len Lyons and Don Perlo, in their book Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters, described the basic elements of the quartets music: Fuguelike interplay among the instruments; clear (sometimes simplistic) thematic statements; excursions into polytonality; and a tight group sound. This definitive Dave Brubeck Quartet sound also bore the mark of irregular time signatures. Brubecks belief that new and complex rhythm patterns, more akin to the African parents, is the natural direction for jazz to develop, as he wrote in Down Beat, was fully realized on his famous 1959 recording Time Out, which featured the hits Take Five (in 5/4 meter) and Blue Rondo a la Turk (in 9/8 meter). Take Five was so well received that it even made the popular music charts, unheard of for an instrumental jazz recording. Time Out went on to become the first instrumental jazz album certified gold.

The quartet continued to record and tour successfully until 1967, when Brubeck decided to disband the group to fully concentrate on composing sacred music and jazz-influenced symphonic works. Among his compositions is the cantata Truth Is Fallen, commissioned in 1971 and dedicated to the slain students of Kent State University and Jackson State, and all other innocent victims caught in the cross fire between repression and rebellion, Leonard Feather noted in his book The Pleasures of Jazz.

Returned to Quartet Format

But Brubeck couldnt stay away from the quartet format and the improvisational element of jazz. Jazz stands for freedom, he told Duncan of the Christian Science Monitor. Its supposed to be the voice of freedom: Get out there and improvise, and take chances. Since the early 1970s, Brubeck has recorded and toured, his quartet composed of various musicians, including a combination of his sons, and labeled Two Generations of Brubeck. Although not quite the force he was in the 1950s and 1960s, Brubeck continued to produce vital music, as Stereo Reviews Chris Albertson attested to in a review of Brubecks 1986 offering, Reflections, stating that the album only partly reflects the past: the present is also strongly represented, and the blend is good. There was always a lyrical side to Brubeck, and thatas several selections here demonstrateis an aspect of his music that time has enhanced.

For over four decades Dave Brubeck has created music, both written and unwritten. He led one of the most successful quartets in the history of jazz without pandering to either popular or critical dictates, remaining a paragon of obstinacy, and [playing], stolidly or not, as he pleases, Rice observed in the New Yorker. He has persisted in seeking a voice for his creations with an informed intellectual purpose. Far from being a born jazz man, Brubeck is a creative artist, an artist who uses jazz as his means of self-impression and as a source of unbounded inspiration, wrote Jazz Journals White, adding that the fundamental reason for Brubecks failure to convince the jazz masses is simply that he attempted to bring something new into jazz.

Selected compositions

The Light in the Wilderness (oratorio).

To Hope: A Mass for a New Decade (mass).

The Gates of Justice (cantata).

Truth Is Fallen (cantata).

The Real Ambassadors (musical; lyrics by lola Brubeck).

Points on Jazz (ballet).

Also composed the jazz works The Duke, Blue Rondo a la Turk, Its a Raggy Waltz, In Your Own Sweet Way, Balcony Rock, Koto Song, and Softly, William, Softly.

Selected discography

Octet, Fantasy, 1949.

Jazz at College of the Pacific, Fantasy, 1953.

Jazz at Oberlin, Fantasy, 1953.

Jazz Goes to College, Columbia, 1954.

Jazz: Red Hot and Cool, Columbia, 1955.

Brubeck Plays Brubeck, Columbia, 1956.

Jazz Impressions of Eurasia, Columbia, 1958, reissued, Columbia Jazz Masterpieces/Legacy, 1992.

Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra, Columbia, 1960.

Time Further Out, Columbia, 1961.

Jazz Impressions of Japan, Columbia, 1964.

Elementals for Jazz Combo, Orchestra, and Baritone Solo, Decca, 1970.

Adventures in Time, Columbia, 1972.

Two Generations of Brubeck, Atlantic, 1973.

All the Things We Are, Atlantic, 1974.

Quartet: 25th Anniversary Reunion, A&M, 1976.

Back Home, Concord Jazz, 1979.

Paper Moon, Concord Jazz, 1981.

Concord on a Summer Night, Concord Jazz, 1982.

For lola (recorded 1984), Concord Jazz, 1985.

Reflections (recorded 1985), Concord Jazz, 1986.

Gone With the Wind, Columbia Jazz Masterpieces, 1987.

Time Out (recorded c. 1960; reissue), Columbia Jazz Masterpieces, 1987.

Moscow Night (recorded 1987), Concord Jazz, 1988.

Jazz Impressions of New York, Columbia Jazz Masterpieces, 1990.

New Wine: With the Montreal International Jazz Festival Orchestra, MusicMasters, 1990.

Quiet as the Moon, MusicMasters, 1991.

With others

1975/Duets, A&M, 1975.

Brubeck/Mulligan/Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra With Jack Six, Alan Dawson (recorded 1970), MCA Classics, 1990.

Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond With Ron Crotty, Wyatt (Bull) Ruther, Lloyd Davis, Herb Barman, Joe Dodge ( record ed 1952-54), Fantasy, 1990.

Last Set at Newport, Atlantic.

Reunion (recorded 1957), Fantasy.

Take Five Live 1967, Jazz Music Yesterday.

Were All Together Again for the First Time, Atlantic.

Sources

Books

Feather, Leonard, The Pleasures of Jazz, Horizon, 1976.

Gelly, Dave, The Giants of Jazz, Schirmer Books, 1986.

Lyons, Len, The Great Jazz Pianists: Speaking of Their Lives and Music, Morrow, 1983.

Lyons, Len and Don Perlo, Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters, Morrow, 1989.

Periodicals

Christian Science Monitor, January 18, 1989; August 17, 1989.

Down Beat, January 27, 1950; February 10, 1950; February 6, 1957; October 1982; March 1991.

Jazz Journal, February 1958.

Jazz Journal International, December 1988.

Jazz Review, February 1960.

Metronome, August 1955.

New Yorker, June 3, 1961.

New York Times, July 1, 1990.

Stereo Review, February 1980; November 1986.

Time, November 8, 1954.

Rob Nagel

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Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck (born 1920), who is considered the most widely acclaimed jazz musician of his time period, has been described as everything from mystical to methodical.

According to Robert Rice of the New Yorker, the combo led by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck during the 1950s and 1960s was "the world's best-paid, most widely travelled, most highly publicized, and most popular small group." While Brubeck can be considered the world's most widely acclaimed musician of his period, he is also quite possibly its most criticized, having been described as everything from mystical to methodical. Stanley H. White wrote in Jazz Journal in 1958 that Brubeck's "ability to improvise fluently on almost any given theme, and his ability to swing with both drive and imagination make him a jazz musician of singular merit"; two years later Joe Goldberg declared in Jazz Review "that jazz is not [Brubeck's] natural form of expression, but he is determined to play jazz, as if a man who knew five hundred words of French were to attempt a novel in that language."

Perhaps Rice's statement on the importance of Brubeck's music, that "it is impossible to make a comment—pro, con, or merely factual—that would not be disputed by a majority of the people who habitually play, listen to, or write about jazz," sums up the critical commentary that surrounds Brubeck's body of work. What can be asserted is that Brubeck, beyond the praise and fault-finding, beyond even the unexamined end result of his music, has always been an intelligent musician thoughtful of the process, an artist constantly seeking a new and justifiable means of creative expression.

"Perhaps the most significant contribution made by the Brubeck Quartet has been the integration of jazz and classical elements," Al Zeiger noted in Metronome. But Brubeck's precarious marriage of these two divergent styles has frequently offended stylists and aficionados of the pure jazz form. "He cannot always maintain the balance between jazz and classical music without forsaking an element vital to either one form," White appraised in Jazz Journal. More often than not, Brubeck's improvisations slip from jazz into classical colors, bringing up "a little canon a la Bach or some dissonant counterpoint a la Bartok or even a thrashing crisis a la Beethoven," a reporter for Time pointed out.

Brubeck's tendency toward peppering his jazz speech with classical tones is rooted in his childhood. His mother, a classically trained piano teacher, was a believer in prenatal influence. "She practiced all through her pregnancies," Brubeck related, according to Len Lyons in The Great Jazz Pianists: Speaking of Their Lives and Music. "When we were born, we were all put near the piano to listen to her practicing. I heard Chopin, Liszt, Mozart, and Bach from infancy." While his brothers took to classical training, Brubeck rebelled against his mother's teachings, preferring instead to make up his own songs. "There can be little doubt that his original interest in jazz arose as a protest against the idea of playing notes that were written on paper instead of the notes that were in his head," Rice wrote in the New Yorker. It is noteworthy that Brubeck did not learn to read music until later in life. Because of his acute musical ear, he was able to fool his mother by reproducing any piece after listening to it once or twice.

Despite Brubeck's early protestations, classical music informed his subsequent musical approach. He attested to this in an article he wrote for Down Beat at the beginning of his career: "Because the jazz musician creates music, interprets music as he hears it, it is natural that his improvised compositions should reflect every kind of music to which he has been exposed." Further exposure to the classical realm came through studies with the French composer Darius Milhaud.

After graduating with a degree in music and serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Brubeck studied composition under Milhaud at Mills College for three years. From this classical instructor, Brubeck learned one important point about composing, as he explained to Michael Bourne in Down Beat: "One lesson was never give up jazz. And he told me I would be a composer on my own terms…. He said, 'If you don't reflect your own country and use the jazz idiom, you'll never be a part of this culture.' And, of course, Copland used it, Bernstein used it. Most of the important American composers have used jazz." But it seems that jazz was just a tool used to build his compositions, for in addition, Brubeck learned from Milhaud the usage of modern European polytonal harmonies on which he was to base his style.

After his apprenticeship under Milhaud, Brubeck sought a group sound for his compositions in 1949, first with an octet, then pared down to a trio. He also helped form Fantasy Records, the label on which he first recorded. But his definition of jazz—"an improvised musical expression based on European harmony and African rhythms," as he described it in Down Beat—was not fulfilled until Brubeck added alto saxophonist Paul Desmond to the group in 1951. "Desmond's yearning lyricism proved the perfect foil for Brubeck's percussive approach," Amy Duncan pointed out in the Christian Science Monitor. Another indication of Brubeck's keen judgement was his decision at the time to forego the night club circuit in favor of college campuses. The 1954 recording of one such tour, Jazz Goes to College, was the quartet's breakthrough, selling over a million copies and earning Brubeck the cover of Time's November 8, 1954, issue.

In Time's accompanying profile Brubeck was described as "a wigging cat with a far-out wail" who produces "some of the strangest and loveliest music ever played since jazz was born." His music and approach, which the article proclaimed heralded a new jazz age, "is neither chaotic nor abandoned. It evokes neither swinging hips nor hip flasks. It goes to the head and the heart more than to the feet."

But accompanying the rising acclaim was also rising derision. The debate over the purpose and sound of jazz divided the critical camps. Metronome's Zeiger lauded Brubeck's technique: "his texture has a refinement and lightness to it which, at times, is characteristic of the grace and elegance of Mozart"; but Jazz Journal's White stressed that "the unavoidable lack of beat, the absence of the jazz spirit—these indispensable jazz attributes—bring defeat to an otherwise highly intelligent and musicianly artist." Dave Gelly, writing in his book The Giants of Jazz, summed up the reasons for critical disapproval: "Brubeck's studious manner, his copious references to Milhaud and Hindemith in press interviews, his little lectures at concerts on how very complicated and demanding the next number was going to be, his quotations from Bach, the galloping pomposity of his piano solos." The public, however, continued its almost unanimous approval of the quartet. "The fact that it is admired by the public may explain the fact that it is scorned by many of the adepts," Rice assessed in the New Yorker. "'Popular' is an extreme [negative] in certain jazz circles."

With the substitution of Joe Morello on drums and Eugene Wright on bass in the late 1950s, Brubeck formed the classic Dave Brubeck Quartet, which performed unchanged for almost ten years. Len Lyons and Don Perlo, in their book Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters, described the basic elements of the quartet's music: "Fuguelike interplay among the instruments; clear (sometimes simplistic) thematic statements; excursions into polytonality; and a tight group sound." This definitive Dave Brubeck Quartet sound also bore the mark of irregular time signatures. Brubeck's belief that "new and complex rhythm patterns, more akin to the African parents, is the natural direction for jazz to develop," as he wrote in Down Beat, was fully realized on his famous 1959 recording, Time Out, which featured the hits "Take Five" (in 5/4 meter) and "Blue Rondo a la Turk" (in 9/8 meter). "Take Five" was so well received that it even made the popular music charts, unheard of for an instrumental jazz recording. Time Out went on to become the first instrumental jazz album certified gold.

The quartet continued to record and tour successfully until 1967, when Brubeck decided to disband the group to fully concentrate on composing sacred music and jazz-influenced symphonic works. Among his compositions is the cantata Truth Is Fallen, commissioned in 1971 and dedicated "to the slain students of Kent State University and Jackson State, and all other innocent victims caught in the cross fire between repression and rebellion," Leonard Feather noted in his book The Pleasures of Jazz.

But Brubeck couldn't stay away from the quartet format and the improvisational element of jazz. "Jazz stands for freedom," he told Duncan of the Christian Science Monitor. "It's supposed to be the voice of freedom: Get out there and improvise, and take chances." Since the early 1970s, Brubeck has recorded and toured with his quartet composed of various musicians, including a combination of his sons, and labeled Two Generations of Brubeck. Although not quite the force he was in the 1950s and 1960s, Brubeck continued to produce vital music, as Stereo Review's Chris Albertson attested to in a review of Brubeck's 1986 offering, Reflections, stating that "the album only partly reflects the past: the present is also strongly represented, and the blend is good…. There was always a lyrical side to Brubeck, and that—as several selections here demonstrate—is an aspect of his music that time has enhanced."

For over four decades Dave Brubeck has created music, both written and unwritten. He led one of the most successful quartets in the history of jazz without pandering to either popular or critical dictates, remaining "a paragon of obstinacy, and [playing], stolidly or not, as he pleases," Rice observed in the New Yorker. He has persisted in seeking a voice for his creations with an informed intellectual purpose. "Far from being a born jazz man, Brubeck is a creative artist, an artist who uses jazz as his means of self-impression and as a source of unbounded inspiration," wrote Jazz Journal' s White, adding that "the fundamental reason for Brubeck's failure to convince the jazz masses is simply that he attempted to bring something new into jazz."

Further Reading

Feather, Leonard, The Pleasures of Jazz, Horizon, 1976.

Gelly, Dave, The Giants of Jazz, Schirmer Books, 1986.

Lyons, Len, The Great Jazz Pianists: Speaking of Their Lives and Music, Morrow, 1983.

Lyons, Len and Don Perlo, Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters, Morrow, 1989.

Christian Science Monitor, January 18, 1989; August 17, 1989.

Down Beat, January 27, 1950; February 10, 1950; February 6, 1957; October, 1982; March, 1991.

Jazz Journal, February 1958.

Jazz Journal International, December 1988.

Jazz Review, February 1960.

Metronome, August 1955.

New Yorker, June 3, 1961.

New York Times, July 1, 1990.

Stereo Review, February 1980; November 1986.

Time, November 8, 1954. □

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Brubeck, Dave

Dave Brubeck (David Warren Brubeck) (brōō´bĕk), 1920–, American pianist and composer, b. Concord, Calif. Brubeck began studying piano at the age of four and later studied composition with Milhaud and Schoenberg. In 1951 he organized a jazz quartet with alto saxaphonist Paul Desmond. His music, influenced by modern classical composers, is distinguished by complex harmony and the use of meters not typical in jazz.

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"Brubeck, Dave." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Brubeck, Dave." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/brubeck-dave