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Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Dave Brubeck

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August 20, 2014
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August 20, 2014
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Please don't submit copyrighted work; original poems, songs or prayers welcomed.

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December 09, 2012
I have many fond memories of the Dave Brubeck Quartet performing at Western Reserve University and a tent performance venue in East Cleveland (the name escapes me). As a young jazz sax player, the experience of listening to Paul Desmond's "flights of fancy" in concert and also on record inspired me to study music and pursue a career in jazz education. I was so enamored by his sound and jazz lines that I memorized note-for-note all his solos on his "Desmond and Friends" Album.
What I recall totally unique about Brubeck was how he shared the spotlight with the rest of the Quartet, especially Paul. I still can envision how Dave would take a chorus or two and then Paul would saunter up to the microphone and spin out a dozen or more, each building, captivating and enthralling - the audience fixated on each developing phrase. And what was Brubeck doing during those Desmond "flights"? Many a time Dave would stop "comping" and just listen to Paul, smiling like a Cheshire cat, enjoying the moment with the rest of us. Sadly, the recordings of the 50's and 60's never allowed Dave and Paul to stretch out like they did in those concert settings.
And one more observation kind reader: Dave and Paul had this unique ability to employ musical "quotation" in their improvisation. Anybody can interpose a familiar phrase or corny tune in a solo, but to select that just right melodic snippet and weave it logically into a solo is quite a heady trick. Many times the two soloists would engage in a sort of melodic "conversation" - trading lines like two women at a Hadassah party. The audiences loved it and always responded enthusiastically. The result of all of this was oftentimes absolutely hilarious - a complete jazz experience. Where is there any humor in jazz today?
For old hipsters like myself on the bright side of senility, Dave and his faithful music companion Paul Desmond were my heroes, my musical friends, my teachers and source of inspiration, and I miss them. I hope today's hipsters discover their essence and learn from them. Good night Dave, enjoy that session with Paul - I hear he found a good reed.

Dr. Tom Husak, Artistic Director, Austin Community College Jazz Ensemble, Austin, Texas
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