My first real experience with jazz was promoting a concert at Westminster College in Fulton,
Missouri. Yes, I did play an instrument, the trombone. I did play it in a dance band (1950s lingo), but my talent was modest at best. So when my friend Rush Moody asked me to start a
jazz program for Chesapeake Chamber Music, my initial reflection took me back to the 1960s
when I helped produce a jazz concert featuring Dave Brubeck and his quartet.
Dave Brubeck, encouraged by his wife Iola, toured college campuses with his band in the 1950s
and 60s. His band included the incomparable Paul Desmond on alto sax, Gene Wright on bass,
and Joe Morello on drums. I know that when I heard “Take Five” in person, my music world
changed. I listened to almost no rock music after that sublime moment.
Dave Brubeck lived to his 92nd the late 90s. On December 5, 2012 this is the way The New York Times began Dave Brubeck’s obituary:
“Dave Brubeck, the pianist and composer who helped make jazz popular again in the 1950s
and ’60s with recordings like “Time Out,” the first jazz album to sell a million copies, and “Take Five,” the still instantly recognizable hit single that was that album’s centerpiece, died on Wednesday in Norwalk, Conn. He would have turned 92 on Thursday.”
Early in Brubeck’s career he graced the cover of Time. It was 1954 and the inscription was “The joints are really flipping.”
At this year’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival in Easton, MD, we will salute Dave Brubeck at the
Avalon Theatre on Saturday, August 30 at 2 p.m. The salute will be led by Bobby Militello who
became Brubeck’s alto saxophonist after Paul Desmond’s death. The joint will be flipping.
Time will pass but Dave Brubeck’s contributions will not be forgotten by jazz historians. For me there is something special about this salute. And for all of us there is something special about celebrating the life and music of an icon while our memories remain vivid.
We hope you will join us at this year’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival at the historic Avalon
Theatre in Easton. In addition to the salute to Dave Brubeck, there will be performances by trumpeter Etienne Charles, Monty Alexander and his trio, along with Allan Harris, James
DeFrances, and tenor saxophonist Houston Person; and jazz/gospel vocalist Dee Daniels. Tickets
are going fast. Visit ChesapeakeJazz.org.