06 December 2012


by Andy Weddington
Thursday, 06 December 2012

"We don't know the power that's within our own bodies." Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck - jazz pianist extraordinaire - died yesterday.

Had death called today, he'd have been 92. What a remarkable life Mr. Brubeck had - among other notables, he served in the U. S. Army, Patton's Third Army, during WWII. His life was filled with music. And he filled our lives with wonderful music.

The first time I recall hearing Mr. Brubeck's music was in college. My roommate, Reid - whose music collection was the widest ranging of anyone in the dorm, if you could drink beer to it he had it, owned the classic 'Time Out' LP. We played it regularly.

The music intrigued me. As much so the jacket cover art - no other is more clear in my memory. I always thought the music, the sounds, and the sights the perfect creative complement.

After college, I bought the LP. And listened to it over and over and over. It was good late night music - energizing but peaceful. Calming. I've never tired of it.

In the early 90s my wife and I saw Dave Brubeck live in Raleigh, NC. What a treat and memorable concert - fabulous music and performed by a humble showman who clearly loved what he was doing.

Somewhere along the line, as technology changed, I bought the CD. The cover art was the same as the LP. Of course it was.

Now Brubeck's music is loaded on my iPad and iPhone. I still visualize the cover art. And when played through a Bose speaker, via Bluetooth, it sounds fantastic. 

I know little about the science of music. It's a strange world to me.

But I know Mr. Brubeck's music is timeless. It always will be.

I did not learn until recently he graduated from college with a music degree but was unable to read music.

Dave Brubeck was a jazz man. Progressive jazz. Improvisation. Some might say smooth jazz. Call it whatever but it was most certainly inventive jazz.  

Mr. Brubeck was no ordinary musician. He was a composer, too - a brilliant one. He experimented with time signatures and whatever the other variables for making music. He pleased the ears in ways that had not been done before. 

Once asked about his experimentation, Brubeck said, "You never know what's going to work. You just go with what you believe in, whether it's a success or not."

That's right. You just go with what you believe in. It's the same with painting and sculpting and acting and dancing.

That's the way artists, the way pioneers, the way inventors and discoverers, live and work. They go their own way. They bravely wander into uncharted territory. It is the unknown and uncertainty that makes for creation. Sometimes they fail. Sometimes they fail miserably. But sometimes they enjoy wild success. And they could care less as to the criticism and ridicule of others. The limelight is always welcome. For soon the skeptics become admirers and copy cats.

Dave Brubeck was an original. He was cool. And he scored and played cool music. Yes, you can drink beer to it. Wine too. But Scotch is better - smoother. And listening is best done late at night when the world goes quiet.

Time's up for Dave Brubeck. But we'll forever remember him - 'Time Out' lives on.

In closing...

Thanks, Reid, for the introduction. Imagine, at the time, Dave Brubeck was about our present age. Those Bailey days do not seem all that long ago.

Post Script

'Take Five' by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Take five, give a listen. Beautiful music! http://www.wimp.com/quartetperforms/


Dottie Jean said...

Excellent, Andy. I enjoyed reading this and liked the details, the story, the generalization about artists. One of your best. ~ Dottie Jean

A Colonel of Truth said...

Thank you, Dottie Jean. Mr. Brubeck has been on my mind all day. So, this afternoon I sat down and wrote what was on my mind. The need to tell a story - an approach with which you are familiar.

Reid said...

Great memories of you, Bailey Hall, drinkin' beer and Dave Brubeck....and I agree with you.....seems like not that long ago.......