Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Take Five

Visiting the finely tuned jazz great Dave Brubeck



By Wendy Carlson (video below)

Dave Brubeck quite possibly could have ended up roping cattle instead of composing some of the most memorable pieces in the history of jazz. The legendary pianist credited with crossover, mainstream songs like “The Duke” and “In Your Own Sweet Way” celebrates his 90th birthday this year. But his life did not always flow as mellifluously as his music. “There were many years it was very, very rough. I remember my dad saying to me, ‘You can always come home,’” says Brubeck, at home in his sun-filled studio in Wilton.

Brubeck’s father managed a California cattle farm, setting aside four cows for his youngest son to tend after he graduated from grammar school. Brubeck Sr.’s intention was that his son would return one day to the ranch. At times, with money tight and a family to raise, ranching seemed to Dave a promising alternative to the relentless grind of road tours. But once the Dave Brubeck Quartet released the 1959 album “Time Out,” which fast became one of the best-known and biggest-selling jazz albums of all time, life as a cattle hand had long faded away.

For more than 70 years, Brubeck has been making jazz. He continues to compose and perform with the latest incarnation of his quartet in such venues as the Ravinia Jazz Festival in Chicago and up in Kent at this year’s Litchfield Jazz Festival, August 6-8, which is dedicated to him. A documentary on his life produced by jazz enthusiast Clint Eastwood, and Bruce Ricker is scheduled to air on his birthday, December 6. “Ah, Eastwood,” muses Brubeck. “He’s been following me around since he was 15 years old.”

Throughout his career Brubeck has won numerous national and international awards, including a Kennedy Center Honor last year for his lifetime contribution to American culture. Though the awards keep coming, for a few quiet minutes at his Wilton home, Brubeck sits reposed in front of one of his two 1949 concert grand Baldwins, reflecting on the future of jazz and his contributions to the genre.

Best known for his innovative, odd-time signatures in pieces like “Take Five,” written by the Quartet’s late saxphonist Paul Desmond, Brubeck’s later contributions to jazz have been equally creative. There’s the jazz opera, Cannery Row Suite, based on John Steinbeck’s classic American novel, and a composition set to the photography of Ansel Adams. 

“When I was in college, one of my favorite professors used to say, ‘We are the sum of our past.’ I am not the same person who sat down to compose 50 years ago. Back then, I would not have had the background in composition or an understanding of photography or Ansel Adam’s life and his devotion to nature to have written such a piece.”

With the Dave Brubeck Quartet, whose current members include Bobby Militello, Randy Jones, and Michael Moore, Brubeck continues improvising, giving old tunes a fresh start. He keeps tabs on young jazz pianists such as Taylor Eigsti and Liam Noble, who are charting new territory, and supports emerging musicians through the Brubeck Institute at his California alma mater, University of the Pacific.

Regrettably, the music industry is less receptive to jazz than it was in the 1950s, admits Brubeck. Nevertheless, the medium is firmly embedded in the fabric of our culture in ways we might not even realize. “If you go to a big-league football game, there’s often a band playing some jazz during half-time, or during a Broadway play there’s often jazz influences. If you just go to a movie and there’s a chase scene, usually there’s some wonderful jazz music leading you on that chase.”

As Brubeck sees it, there will always be a jazz audience as well as an audience that doesn’t appreciate jazz until they really listen and the light suddenly goes on. “On the college level, it’s gone from rejecting jazz to respecting it,” he says. “You can get a degree in jazz music now in many great music schools.” As for the California ranch? “Well,” says Brubeck, as he runs his fingers over the piano keys, “that’s long gone.”

 

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Fashions of Downton Abbey

Kandie Carle discusses Edwardian clothing and customs

Small Town, Big Ideas

A conference of thought leaders lands in Kent

Laced Up

The Litchfield County women hikers - The Intrepids.

The One That Got Away

Confessions of a car enthusiast

Garden Squared

Growing organic produce in your backyard

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

July 2015

Curators: Michelle Grabner & Brad Killam, Co-founders of the Suburban and the Poor Farm June 6 through July 26, 2015 - See more...

Cost: Free

Where:
Silvermine Art Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Telephone: 203.966.9700
Website »

More information

Reception to celebrate more than 50 Wilton artists displaying diverse styles, media, and subjects in this Annual Summer Show. View favorite artists and discover new talent. Exhibit runs through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

“The Best Book Sale in New England" Friday, July 24 to Tuesday, July 28, 2015, see below for daily hours OVER 120,000 BOOKS, plus CDs, DVDs, RECORDS, etc., plus unique Specials...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203) 259-0346
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Opening May 29 – August 15 in the Silvermine Room “The Cartoonists of Silvermine: Past and Present” is an historical retrospective exhibiting over seventy reproductions of...

Cost: $5 Suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

July 7 through September 2015 A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is opening at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Costumes Museum. The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans...

Cost: $5.00 suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Website »

More information

Historic Barns: Yesterday & Today Photographs by Kip Farrell Town House, Parlor Room Tuesday-Saturday, Walk-in May 21 – September Featuring photographs of New Canaan...

Cost: $5.00 Admission

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present its upcoming summer exhibition “Color Untitled” to be held June 3rd through August 1st, 2015.  The group show will consist of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
21 South Avenue
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reception to celebrate more than 50 Wilton artists displaying diverse styles, media, and subjects in this Annual Summer Show. View favorite artists and discover new talent. Exhibit runs through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

“The Best Book Sale in New England" Friday, July 24 to Tuesday, July 28, 2015, see below for daily hours OVER 120,000 BOOKS, plus CDs, DVDs, RECORDS, etc., plus unique Specials...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203) 259-0346
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Opening May 29 – August 15 in the Silvermine Room “The Cartoonists of Silvermine: Past and Present” is an historical retrospective exhibiting over seventy reproductions of...

Cost: $5 Suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

July 7 through September 2015 A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is opening at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Costumes Museum. The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans...

Cost: $5.00 suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Website »

More information

Historic Barns: Yesterday & Today Photographs by Kip Farrell Town House, Parlor Room Tuesday-Saturday, Walk-in May 21 – September Featuring photographs of New Canaan...

Cost: $5.00 Admission

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present its upcoming summer exhibition “Color Untitled” to be held June 3rd through August 1st, 2015.  The group show will consist of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
21 South Avenue
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join Mr. Fish and Lisa Lou as they show how fun the magic of science can be by revealing the amazing secrets behind mind-blowing tricks. The audience will learn how to perform their own magical...

Cost: $7.50-$20

Where:
The Palace Theatre
61 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Telephone: 203-325-4466
Website »

More information

Reception to celebrate more than 50 Wilton artists displaying diverse styles, media, and subjects in this Annual Summer Show. View favorite artists and discover new talent. Exhibit runs through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

“The Best Book Sale in New England" Friday, July 24 to Tuesday, July 28, 2015, see below for daily hours OVER 120,000 BOOKS, plus CDs, DVDs, RECORDS, etc., plus unique Specials...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203) 259-0346
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Opening May 29 – August 15 in the Silvermine Room “The Cartoonists of Silvermine: Past and Present” is an historical retrospective exhibiting over seventy reproductions of...

Cost: $5 Suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

July 7 through September 2015 A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is opening at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Costumes Museum. The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans...

Cost: $5.00 suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Website »

More information

Historic Barns: Yesterday & Today Photographs by Kip Farrell Town House, Parlor Room Tuesday-Saturday, Walk-in May 21 – September Featuring photographs of New Canaan...

Cost: $5.00 Admission

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present its upcoming summer exhibition “Color Untitled” to be held June 3rd through August 1st, 2015.  The group show will consist of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
21 South Avenue
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reception to celebrate more than 50 Wilton artists displaying diverse styles, media, and subjects in this Annual Summer Show. View favorite artists and discover new talent. Exhibit runs through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening May 29 – August 15 in the Silvermine Room “The Cartoonists of Silvermine: Past and Present” is an historical retrospective exhibiting over seventy reproductions of...

Cost: $5 Suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

July 7 through September 2015 A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is opening at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Costumes Museum. The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans...

Cost: $5.00 suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Website »

More information

Historic Barns: Yesterday & Today Photographs by Kip Farrell Town House, Parlor Room Tuesday-Saturday, Walk-in May 21 – September Featuring photographs of New Canaan...

Cost: $5.00 Admission

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present its upcoming summer exhibition “Color Untitled” to be held June 3rd through August 1st, 2015.  The group show will consist of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
21 South Avenue
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reception to celebrate more than 50 Wilton artists displaying diverse styles, media, and subjects in this Annual Summer Show. View favorite artists and discover new talent. Exhibit runs through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening May 29 – August 15 in the Silvermine Room “The Cartoonists of Silvermine: Past and Present” is an historical retrospective exhibiting over seventy reproductions of...

Cost: $5 Suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

July 7 through September 2015 A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is opening at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Costumes Museum. The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans...

Cost: $5.00 suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Website »

More information

Historic Barns: Yesterday & Today Photographs by Kip Farrell Town House, Parlor Room Tuesday-Saturday, Walk-in May 21 – September Featuring photographs of New Canaan...

Cost: $5.00 Admission

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present its upcoming summer exhibition “Color Untitled” to be held June 3rd through August 1st, 2015.  The group show will consist of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
21 South Avenue
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reception to celebrate more than 50 Wilton artists displaying diverse styles, media, and subjects in this Annual Summer Show. View favorite artists and discover new talent. Exhibit runs through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening May 29 – August 15 in the Silvermine Room “The Cartoonists of Silvermine: Past and Present” is an historical retrospective exhibiting over seventy reproductions of...

Cost: $5 Suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

July 7 through September 2015 A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is opening at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Costumes Museum. The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans...

Cost: $5.00 suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Website »

More information

Historic Barns: Yesterday & Today Photographs by Kip Farrell Town House, Parlor Room Tuesday-Saturday, Walk-in May 21 – September Featuring photographs of New Canaan...

Cost: $5.00 Admission

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present its upcoming summer exhibition “Color Untitled” to be held June 3rd through August 1st, 2015.  The group show will consist of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
21 South Avenue
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reception to celebrate more than 50 Wilton artists displaying diverse styles, media, and subjects in this Annual Summer Show. View favorite artists and discover new talent. Exhibit runs through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening May 29 – August 15 in the Silvermine Room “The Cartoonists of Silvermine: Past and Present” is an historical retrospective exhibiting over seventy reproductions of...

Cost: $5 Suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

July 7 through September 2015 A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is opening at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Costumes Museum. The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans...

Cost: $5.00 suggested donation

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Website »

More information

Historic Barns: Yesterday & Today Photographs by Kip Farrell Town House, Parlor Room Tuesday-Saturday, Walk-in May 21 – September Featuring photographs of New Canaan...

Cost: $5.00 Admission

Where:
New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203.966.1776
Contact Name: Nicole Thelen
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present its upcoming summer exhibition “Color Untitled” to be held June 3rd through August 1st, 2015.  The group show will consist of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
21 South Avenue
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Discover your inner artist while painting outside with watercolor supplies provided by Weir Farm National Historic Site! This is part of the National Park Services. On Saturdays from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Weir Farm National Historic Site
735 Nod Hill Road
Witon, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 203-834-1896
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags