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Drumming up a tribute to a departed legend
Dan Brubeck is recognized internationally as one the world’s finest jazz drummers and he’ll be doing a tribute to another jazz legend in Qualicum Beach this weekend.
Dan’s father Dave Brubeck passed away last year a day before his 92nd birthday, but in his long life he was given top honours in both the jazz and classical worlds. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he was designated a Living Legend by the United States Library of Congress and he received the National Medal of the Arts from former United States president Bill Clinton, among many other awards around the world.
His son Dan currently lives on the Sunshine Coast and has been a featured soloist with many of the world’s top jazz artists. He was in the group Bob Dylan and The Band for a couple of years among a list of other collaborations, and currently plays in his own acclaimed quartet, the Brubeck Brothers.
On December 6 at The Civic Centre he will play a tribute to his father with another highly skilled quartet. That date would have been his father’s 93rd birthday.
Dan took up the drums when he was about four years old. He would often hear his dad and his seasoned band-mates jamming, including Dan’s first major drumming inspiration, Joe Morello, recognized as the world’s top drummer for many years.
“At my parent’s house there was always pianos and basses and instruments lying around, drums and stuff were always there, so actually all of the siblings became musicians,” said Dan.
He was about 10-years-old the first time he was featured on a record with his dad and by the time he was 17 he was touring around the world with his dad and his various ensembles, which often included one, two or three of his brothers.
He said playing with the world’s great jazz and classical players was quite the experience.
“It’s interesting now because I’m closing in on almost being 60, and I look at it and think it was a strange choice, but a good choice,” he said.
Fast forward a few decades and the Brubeck Brothers Quartet are keeping equally busy, touring Europe extensively last year and this year playing at major jazz festivals in Canada and the United States including the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Playboy Jazz festival in Los Angeles, the Monterey Jazz Festival (which his dad had a hand in creating) and the Detroit Jazz Festival. In Detroit the quartet played their own material as well as some of Dan’s Dads’ material. They even turned one of Dave’s masses into a jazz number.
“That was in downtown Detroit with the whole street filled, and it was just one of those incredible kind of moments, all summer’s been like that,” he said, adding all of those concerts were dedicated to his dad.
Besides that quartet, Dan has recently put together a stellar ensemble to play selected music his father wrote, with lyrics written by his mother.
Much of the material has been sung by artists like Louis Armstrong, Bette Midler and Roberta Gambarini, but it’s never been packaged together and performed like this, Dan said.
“So this group is taking (my mom’s) lyrics and my dad’s music and presenting it all that together and it’s actually been really gratifying and one of my favourite projects I’ve ever done. It’s really great to hear this music in the way it was conceived originally.”
His parents pioneered new marketing concepts for jazz such as playing at collages in the early 1950s, he explained. In that way his mother changed how the jazz industry was perceived, which was formerly associated with dark, dingy, and smoky venues, he said.
Dan is coming with a group of stellar musicians to Qualicum Beach because his dad was friends with TOSH’s music director Ron Hadley, and Dan has also become friends with Hadley over the years, he said. Dan has been to Qualicum Beach to perform before at Hadley’s request and when he notified Hadley he was touring with this tribute show, Hadley suggested he come on his dad’s birthday.
“That was a very good thought, I thought,” Dan said. “And I am free for once in a blue moon.”
Dave Brubeck: A Son’s tribute by Dan Brubeck will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on December 6. Tickets are $20 available at TOSH. Advance tickets are recommended as seating is limited. Drop by the centre during office hours or call 250-752-6133 to purchase tickets with a credit card.For more on TOSH visit www.theoldschoolhouse.org. For more on Dan Brucbeck visit www.brubeckbrothers.com.