I had the immense privilege on Friday, March 25th, to see one of my most respected musicians, Mr. Dave Brubeck. At 90 and still playing concerts, he is a thrill to see and hear. The quartet, dressed in tuxedos, let you know when they walked on stage that your night at the Sovereign Theatre was going to be special.
I remember when I first heard The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s album Take Five. I was about 13 years old and learning to play the trumpet. A couple of us put together a four piece combo that was led by a kid who was an amazing piano player. He had perfect pitch and could move around the keys playing anything by ear. When we heard “Take Five” it blew us away.
Dave is not as spry as he used to be and his playing, shall we say, is less energetic than in years past. Less energetic but no less spectacular. I saw him live with his original quartet in 1965 and I was mesmerized then and I was again held captive on Friday. He played softly and had a classical jazz feel, all the while using the entire 88 keys he had to work with, still playing those big chords and still finding the odd time signature.
The back-up crew of bass, alto and drums was outstanding and a great compliment to Mr. Brubeck’s style. When you walk on stage with Dave Brubeck, you can’t help but be compared to Euene Wright, Joe Morello and Paul Desmond. These guys were up to it. They were perfect.
Dave’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was delicate, emotional and the most stirring piece of the evening. He ended the tune playing the melody with his right hand only, playing gently and softly with the audience hypnotized.
Of course he saved the best for last. “Take Five”, with its incessant 5/4 rhythm underpinning the now familiar melody finished the night. The drum solo was outstanding and raised the audience to applause several times as the drummer found his stride. It was a great evening with a great jazz performer.