I had planned to take a walk around the neighborhood this morning to look for a picture, but that plan went by the wayside when Cindy called me from work and asked me to bring her something that she had forgotten. I decided that since I would be driving downtown, I would look for a photo while I was out. I ended up driving north of town and taking this shot out near Prophetstown State Park. I think it is about time Cindy and I spent some time there.
Ever since I heard yesterday that Dave Brubeck died, I have been going through my memories of the man, the music, and the groups he had fronted. Of course, I’ve also been listening to a lot of the music. Right now I’m listening to the Time In album, but more about it later in this post. I know that I’ve mentioned Dave Brubeck in other posts, and I may repeat some of the things I’ve posted, but perhaps I’ll be expanding on those memories as well.
In the summer of 1965 I was looking forward to leaving Rolling Prairie and going to school at IU in Bloomington. At some point that summer I made a conscious decision to try to develop a musical interest beyond the folk music and rock ‘n roll to which I had spent most of my time listening. It seemed to me that my two options were classical or jazz. Jazz seemed the cooler of the two options, so I went to Roxy Music in LaPorte and searched their vinyl jazz albums. One album stood out, Countdown: Time In Outer Space, by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. The members of the Quartet were Dave Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on alto sax, Joe Morello on drums, and Eugene Wright on bass. The album stood out for two reasons. First, I had heard of the Quartet, and second, the cover art caught my attention. The art was a reproduction of a painting titled Orange and Black Wall 1959 by Franz Kline. It’s abstract art, and I found it appealing. Choosing an album based on the cover art isn’t wise, but the music turned out to be incredible. I was a Brubeck fan from that day on.
The Quartet played a concert at IU my freshman year, and my sister and brother-in-law came down to attend with me. Wow. If anything, the concert solidified my love for the group. One thing that I remember to this day is that Joe Morello did a one-handed drum roll during one of his solos. I had never seen that one done before and was suitably impressed.
During my junior year in Bloomington the Quartet was back for another concert. This time they shared the bill with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and Louis Jordan. I was already a fan of Ramsey Lewis and enjoyed their portion of the concert. Louis Jordan was a pleasant surprise, but I never really followed him. For me, the Quartet was the highlight of the evening. Paul Desmond did not play that night. Mr. Brubeck explained that Mr. Desmond was experiencing some sort of dental emergency. Sitting in for Desmond was Gerry Mulligan. It doesn’t get much better than that.
In just another year or so the Quartet was disbanded, but I kept buying albums. Even later Dave Brubeck fronted a trio that included Alan Dawson and Jack Six. They were joined by Gerry Mulligan. That group released some very good albums, including Blues Roots and Live At The Berlin Philharmonic.
As the years went by I bought a number of Brubeck albums, both old and new. I had started with the time signature albums, but then went on to buy the Jazz Impression albums. Jazz Impressions of Japan is still one of my favorites. He also recorded with his sons, first with Two Generations of Brubeck, and later The New Brubeck Quartet. I bought those albums.
When I moved on to cds, I started buying Brubeck cds to replace my scratched and worn vinyl. During that time Columbia Records released music that had been in their vaults, never released. I started buying those as well. Dave Brubeck moved to Telarc Records and put out some very good albums. I bought some of them. Cindy bought me a copy of Indian Summer for my birthday in 2009, and I loved the solo work.
Shortly before his 90th birthday Dave Brubeck played a concert at Purdue, and Cindy bought us tickets as a present to me. I think she loves me. I know that she became a fan that night.
I know I’ve left out many stories I could relate about how individual songs and albums have been important to me over the years, but I thin it’s time to stop. Oh, wait, I’m listening to Time In right now because while I still love the Countdown album, there are more individually great songs and solos on this album. It was recorded during the time I was seeing the Quartet in concert for the first time, and they played a number of the tunes in that first concert I went to at IU. It has special meaning for me.