Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dave Brubeck Changed the World of Jazz

One of Dad's favorite CDs : Jazz at Oberlin - Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond,  Ron Crotty
My Dad taught me that Dave Brubeck changed the way the world thought about Jazz. Mr. Brubeck, who died today, one day short of his 92nd birthday, recorded an album, Jazz at Oberlin, that literally changed the way the world thought about, and listened to, Jazz.

From Wikipedia:
The concert is credited with making jazz a legitimate field of musical study at Oberlin, but it and the album did much more that. The album is further credited with initiating making jazz a subject of serious intellectual attention in a listening-centric environment; Wendell Logan, the chair of Oberlin's Jazz Studies Department, described it as "the watershed event that signaled the change of performance space for jazz from the nightclub to the concert hall". 
In addition, it was one of the early works in the cool jazz stream of jazz; The Guardian's John Fordham wrote that "indicated new directions for jazz that didn't slavishly mirror bebop, and even hinted at free-jazz piano techniques still years away from realisation"; he further observed that it "marked Brubeck's eager adoption by America's (predominantly white) youth - a welcome that soon extended around the world ... for a rhythmically intricate instrumental jazz". 
Just listening to the album now takes me back to my youth, when I would listen to Dad play it--loud, so loud that you could hear it up the hill behind the house, all the way up to the shed (which he later tore down and put a hot tub on the slab), all the way up to the Kumquat tree, where I would sit on a limb and listen while looking at the view of the San Fernando Valley.

Of course, I was just one of many kids who's Dad taught him about Brubeck. Brubeck inspired many generations of musicians. While I tend more toward John Prine than Jazz, the influence is there, and it makes up a part of who I am musically--from what I play to what I listen to to this day.

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