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Thinking About Dave Brubeck

December 12, 2012

A talented young pianist I admire once complained about all the adulation heaped on Dave Brubeck, noting that on at least one recording he messed up the 5/4 time of Take Five. He was quite outraged that a guy who couldn’t keep time – or more accurately was always messing around with it – should be considered one of the great jazz pianists.

What I wanted to say but didn’t is that you had to be there. You had to be there in the 60s (and even earlier in the 50s) when Brubeck’s music took North America by storm. You had to be there when Paul Desmond’s Take Five was played on every radio station. You had to be there when, like so many others, you first heard those funky time signatures and sweet melodies and fell in love with jazz.

Brubeck and Stan Getz, turned me on to jazz when I was only 14 or 15 years old. By the time I was 17 or 18 I was listening to guys like John Handy (backed by Don Thompson and Terry Clarke) and other deeper more outside stuff but it was Brubeck who first hooked me and Getz whose Brazilian experiments sunk the hook in further.

I remember buying my first jazz album at a shop on Robson St. in Vancouver. It was Brubeck’s greatest hits album that included wonderful tunes like It’s A Raggy Waltz and Blue Rondo a la Turk from Time Out and Time Further Out. I played that thing over and over again as I did a Getz/Gilberto album I acquired a little later.

Without those guys I might never have found this great music. So hats off to Dave Brubeck. He deserves our adulation and respect.

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