Only rare pieces of music become iconic, but the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s tune, “Take Five,” is certainly one of them – a standard in 5/4 time, recognizable even to jazz outsiders.
To celebrate Brubeck’s music and the upcoming centenary of his birth, his son Dan, a drummer, is bringing a trio for an afternoon concert at Studio Live in Cumberland this month. The show is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m.
It’s no surprise Dan Brubeck knows his father’s tunes well, as he and three of his brothers have played with their father on stage and in the recording studio.
He is drummer in the Brubeck Brothers Quartet and both played on and produced the 1993 Grammy-nominated Trio Brubeck album alongside his dad and brother Chris. He als- o played at the Grammy Awards when his dad was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, though the jazz legend had never won a Grammy for a specific recording.
“That was like the closest thing where they really kind of honoured him,” Brubeck says.
He also recalls fondly the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009 where he and his brothers were a surprise part of the act. While his dad was sitting with other honourees and President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, listening to a medley of classic Brubeck music by an all-star band, the four sons were hidden behind a panel that was revealed halfway through, with the four joining the performance. As the broadcast showed, from the look of shock and delight on his dad’s face, their appearance came as a complete surprise.
“We all secretly went down and, you know, did this all behind the scenes, and then surprised the hell out of him by appearing at the Kennedy Honors,” he says.
Over the years, Brubeck has played with many legends outside his family including The Band and guitarists like Larry Coryell and Roy Buchanan. He continues to perform with his brothers in different settings, though they live in different parts of the world and work at different projects.
“We all do get together and play, but it’s kind of rare and slightly hard,” he says.
Born in California, Brubeck now lives in B.C. and will be playing with pianist Miles Black and bassist Miles Hill, to perform some of his father’s music. Brubeck says Black “can swing like crazy yet brings sensitivity and creativity to the music” and is considered one of Canada’s top pianists and “first call” studio musicians, while Hill is a fluid jazz bassist known for his profound sense of time, unique arrangements and ability to play diverse musical styles. He has played with many, such as Van Morrison, Michael Buble and Brazilian jazz superstar Ivan Lins.
This past year also marked an anniversary for the Dave Brubeck’s Quartet’s classic Time Out album, which Brubeck, Black and Hill have covered of late.
“Believe it or not, that was 60 years ago,” he says. “We’ve been doing a lot of stuff from that record.”
This has meant adapting the music from a quartet with saxophone to a trio of piano, bass and drums. As a result, the piano ends up covering melodies listeners might associate with Paul Desmond’s saxophone, but the format also leaves a bit more room for the players to stretch out, and so far they have been getting great crowd reactions. Comox Valley listeners will have the chance to hear for themselves.
Studio Live is at 2679 Beaufort Ave. in Cumberland. Advance tickets are $25 and available by sending e-transfer to StudioLiveStudio@gmail.com.
They are also at Bop City Records in Courtenay, Blue Heron Books in Comox and Moon’s Record in Cumberland, and will also be available at the door for $30. For more info, see http://www.danbrubeck.com/index.html.