Dave Brubeck has died aged 91 on December 5, a day short of his 92nd birthday. This is a brief tribute to one of the greats of jazz and an encouragement to all writers to buy at least one of Dave’s albums and incorporate it into your daily schedule. It will do you nothing but good.
I can’t remember when I discovered Brubeck and his quartet – some years ago – but they’ve helped me through writing a PhD, a couple of novels, any number of poems, articles and short stories, and all the associated research that goes with making art, as Seth Godin might say.
Perhaps Dave and the gang can help you, too.
Feeling a lack of support in the dim dark hours of composition? Need a pick-me-up after lunch? Want a dance partner when everyone is out of reach? A chill-out session with your breakfast cuppa and oats as you rewrite the night before and wonder what you could possibly have been thinking? How about adding a little rhythm to the sweeping, washing, cooking, cleaning in between chapters?
Attach those mp3 earbuds, or crank up the boombox and try one of these albums: The Essential Dave Brubeck, (Columbia, 2CD set), The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Best of Brubeck (1979-2004) (Telarc, 2CD set), The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Their Last Time Out (Live Concert December 26, 1967) (Columbia/Sony, 2CD set), This is Jazz 3: Dave Brubeck (Columbia). And if you want a taste of jazz generally – and who doesn’t? – try The Best of Ken Burns Jazz (Verve Music) – it’s a compilation from Burns’s TV series Jazz – The Definitive History of Jazz, and includes people like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, and of course, Dave, with arguably the quartet’s most famous piece, written by sax player, Paul Desmond, Take Five. There’s a video of the group playing Take Five here on You Tube.in Germany in 1966. It’s great. And if you want to learn more, go to the official Dave Brubeck site, where you can also listen to several tracks.
I can vouch for all of the CDs since I’ve all but worn them out. But there are plenty of others of equal quality that might be available where you happen to be. You won’t regret it – and no, I’m not Dave Brubeck’s shilling niece, cousin, or love child, just a happy fan.
Engage with Dave and the Quartet – it will enhance your practice and your art and your life. Just do it, grasshopper.
Bye, bye, Dave, and thanks for all the notes.