Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Dave Brubeck - RIP

1 of the Jazz Greats of the 20th Century passed away Wednesday, Dave Brubeck, 1 day shy of his 92nd birthday.
His is one of those careers that it is hard to describe because of how much he accomplished. Interestingly enough, Brubeck could not read music. But that didn't stop him from a forging a career in music that spanned over 7 decades.

His 1st recording came out in 1949. In 1951 he formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet. In 1954 he bacame the 2nd Jazz Musician to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. (Louis Armstrong was the 1st.)
In 1959 they released what was to become one of the biggest known & best selling albums, Time Out. It also was 1 of the most controversial of its time as well.

What made it so controversial was that of all the compositions, all original, almost none of them were in common time signatures normally used. Instead time signatures like 9/8, 5/4, 3/4, & 6/4 were used. While the critics were unhappy, people loved it. It became the 1st jazz album to sell a million copies. & it is still popular today. All of the compositions except 1, Take 5, were written by Brubeck. Take Five became a hit  reaching #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 a& #5 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart in 1961. The album cover featured the art of of S. Neil Fujita.
He followed this up in 1961 with Time Further Out, continuing his exploration of unusual time signatures. This is only a small part of his output. His works including oratorios, musicals & concertos, as well as hundreds of jazz compositions. Add to that the huge output of albums, solo, with the quartet & with others.
In 1980 he was commissioned by Ed Murray, editor of  Our Sunday Visitor to compose music for a mass. It was titled To Hope! A Celebration & at the same time, became a Catholic.  "I didn't convert to Catholicism, because I wasn't anything to convert from. I just joined the Catholic Church."
He received many honors over the years, included the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009.

He & his wife, Iola, had 6 children. 5 of them followed in his footsteps becoming musicians. They often joined him in live performances as well as recording with him.
His death Tuesday was of heart failure. He died on the way to a cardiology appointment, accompanied by his son Darius.

Here are a few samples of the huge body of work he left behind.

Naturally, I have to start with Take Five. This is a live version from Germany in 1965,

Another great from Time Out is Blue Rondo à la Turk. Brubeck based this on the unusual rhythm performed by Turkish musicians on the street. The rhythm consists of three measures of 2+2+2+3 followed by one measure of 3 + 3 + 3 and the cycle then repeats.

Here is a segment from his Mass, To Hope! A Celebration. It was performed 2 December 1997 in the  Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.

Here is a piece from his 1961 album, Time Further Out. Called Unsquare Dance. It was done in 7/4 time &  was written during a single trip from his home to the recording studio, where it was recorded that same day. You might recognize the piece of an old classic at the end.

This is just a very small sampling of all his output. He will be sorely missed. But, thankfully, we have plenty of his recordings to remember him by.


  • At 7/12/12 8:37 AM , Blogger Dad29 said...

    Great stuff!

    Now you can count down until some LiturgyWonk decides to use his "Mass" at a real Mass.

    Which would be a real mess.

    What he did there was (arguably) great religious stuff--but not sacred music.

  • At 7/12/12 2:44 PM , Blogger Al said...

    Dad29: Given it came out in 1980, I suspect it already has.
    I checked, the sheet music is still available. & theoretically, CD as well. Amazon says it is out of stock.
    So someone may dig it out. But for some of the pieces the wording won't match up to the new translation, I suspect there are some of those those LiturgyWonks who don't care, would make that sort of mess you mention.


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