Dave Brubeck Takes Time for Jazz Hall
By CHUCK CISSEL
Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is proud to celebrate its 2009-2010 Membership Campaign with the most celebrated jazz pioneer alive today, jazz icon Dave Brubeck.
As the honorary chairman of the new membership campaign, Brubeck invites all Oklahomans to become a member of the Jazz Hall of Fame this year and join him in celebrating two major accomplishments: the Jazz Hall’s 21st year anniversary and Brubeck’s 50 year anniversary, commemorating his timeless, historic CD “Time Out,” which features the masterful and ever-popular recordings of “Take Five” and “Blue Ronda a la Turk,” among other musical gems.
For more information about the benefits of membership, along with the four membership levels (jazz senior, jazz individual, jazz master and jazz legend) and the special additional benefits, call the Jazz Hall of Fame at (918) 281-8600 or 8609.
Brubeck was the recipient of the Jazz Hall’s Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, honoring him for over 50 years of outstanding music and his worldwide accomplishments and contributions to the art form of jazz.
Brief History of Dave Brubeck
In 1954, the legendary Brubeck was featured on the cover of Time magazine, the second jazz musician to be so honored (the first was Louis Armstrong on Feb. 21, 1949).
In 1956, Brubeck hired drummer Joe Morello, who had been working with pianist Marian McPartland. Morello’s presence made possible the rhythmic experiments that were to come. In 1958, American jazz bassist Eugene Wright joined for the group’s U.S. State Department tour of Europe and Asia; Wright would become a permanent member in 1959, making the “classic” quartet’s personnel complete, along with Brubeck on piano and his long-time musical partner, Paul Desmond on alto-saxophone.
In 1959, the Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded “Time Out,” an album their label was enthusiastic about but nonetheless hesitant to release. Featuring the album art of Neil Fujita, the album contained all original compositions, almost none of which were in common time. Nonetheless, on the strength of these unusual time signatures (the album included “Take Five”, “Blue Rondo à la Turk”, and “Three To Get Ready”), it quickly went platinum (over 1 million copies sold).
At this time, Brubeck and his wife Iola were developing a jazz musical, The Real Ambassadors, based in part on experiences of themselves and colleagues during foreign tours on behalf of the U.S. State Department. The soundtrack album, which featured Louis Armstrong, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and Carmen McRae was recorded in 1961; the musical itself was performed at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival.
In 1996, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, Brubeck was awarded the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics, during the University’s commencement. He performed “Travellin’ Blues” for the graduating class of 2006.
On April 8, 2008 former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice presented Brubeck with the “Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy” for offering an American “vision of hope, opportunity and freedom” through his music. “As a little girl I grew up on the sounds of Dave Brubeck because my dad was your biggest fan,” said Rice. At the ceremony Brubeck played a brief recital for the audience at the State Department. “I want to thank all of you because this honor is something that I never expected. Now I am going to play a cold piano with cold hands,” Brubeck stated.
We so enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Brubeck’s presence, when they were with us at the Jazz Hall in 2002. Mr. Brubeck is an amazing human spirit, with a wonderful sense of humor and always had an easy, elegant manner about him. I can say the same of Iola Brubeck, as well. Like everyone else who attended, Brubeck and his trio’s performance at TCC’s Performing Arts Center, I was mesmerized by his brilliant display of jazz at its best. It was an concert and truly one of the great magical musical nights in Tulsa. When I invited Brubeck to be our honorary chair, he immediately consented. We are very grateful to call one of America’s great jazz masters and innovators our friend at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.