I spent last night an evening with the Brubecks. The host was the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the art film festival Epos now at its third edition. Unfortunately I knew too little about the event in the past years and this year I learned about it too late, but this is something to follow in the years to come. The evening program started with the excellent documentary In His Own Sweet Way directed by Bruce Ricker and produced by Clint Eastwood about and with Dave Brubeck and continued with a concert by Darius Brubeck, mostly dedicated to his father’s works.

 

(video source improvisedsolo)

 

The title of the film is inspired by one of the most famous pieces composed by Dave Brubeck (here is on a recording in 1964, with his quartet including preferred saxophonist partner and friend Paul Desmond). It is also a defining story line which is followed with off-voice commentaries in a rather conventional and chronological manner, but gets enriched at each stop by a rich and significant melt of interviews made by the musician during his long career with media figures like Walter Cronkite, and commentaries on the music of Brubeck by experts and artists like Yo-Yo Ma or Sting, and most than all the music itself.  Archived clips take us from the music of the debut years to the 2007 Newport festival concert, and then some music played specially for this film.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwNrmYRiX_o

(video source sixsix)

 

This is the story of a fabulous life, which started in California, continued on the European second world war theaters where his talent is quickly discovered and put to the service on entertaining and raising the moral of the troops and the formal musical studies with Darius Milhaud. The 50s brought him the recognition, the formation of the famous Dave Brubeck Quartet which would accompany him for almost two decades and fame, as jazz was entering mainstream and Brubeck was the first musician in the genre who made the cover of TIME Magazine in 1954. He was also a breakthrough artist in what concerns the penetration of jazz in the popular music attention and hit parades. Take Five above (which also gave the name of the concert last night) was recorded in 1961 and made it to the top in many countries around the world.

 

(video source HAaatUPacific)

 

Brubeck was also part of the first generation of ‘Jazz Ambassadors’ program initiated in 1958 by the State Department, which took the best American jazz musicians in tours world-wide making them known one of the most original forms of art brought to the world by America. This was how American jazz music and some of its bigger musicians reached Romania in the late 60s and start of the 70s. These tours also were a great opportunity for the musicians to be exposed to the music played in other countries and continents. From that period he drew inspiration for pieces like Blue Rondo a la Turk recorded in 1962, this was fusion before the word was applied at all in the musical field.

 

(video source faridb2000)

 

Here he is at an award ceremony at the Kennedy Center in 2009, honored by some of the finest musicians that America has, including his sons. This comes by the end of one of the best music documentaries that I have seen lately, the portrait of an artist whose whole life is music, who loves music and makes people who see and listen to him love it.

 

 

The concert that followed had Darius Brubeck as main performer at piano, with the excellent British saxophonist Dave O’Higgins, and local drummer Shay Zalman and contra-bassist Tal Ronen in the band. Darius is an experimented and articulate pianist, whose luck was to be born in such a family of gifted musicians but this may also have been his handicap because of the comparison everyone immediately draws to his father. His own Web site can be accessed at http://dariusbrubeck.com/. O’Higgins is an excellent saxophonist who would deserve being invited here as separate guest in one of the international jazz series. Both played mostly from the repertoire of the Brubeck Plays Brubeck group they are part of (it is also the name of Dave’s first solo album recorded in 1956). The success and the enthusiastic response of the audience was immediate. A great jazz evening.

A Web site worth being visited is Brubeck Music dedicated to the music of Dave Brubeck and of the members of the whole clan.

As an interesting trivia for my Romanian friends, Darius spent some time in Romania in the last few years playing music and teaching, and his most record To and Fro’ was recorded in concert in May 2010 at the Hungarian Theatre, in Cluj-Napoca.