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A Previously Unpublished Interview with Dave Brubeck

The late pianist on his sacred recordings and more

Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck performing with Wynton Marsalis at the CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival 2010 (photo: Melissa Mergner)
Dave Brubeck's "Brother, The Great Spirit Made Us All" LP
Dave Brubeck's "Truth is Fallen" LP

Dave Brubeck left us nearly a year ago, but the man’s music lives on through his many records. The pianist is most famous for his work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring Paul Desmond on alto saxophone. This group recorded many albums and will be remembered by even the most casual music fan for their seminal hit, “Take Five.” Brubeck and Desmond performed and recorded together from the late 1940s until Brubeck disbanded the Quartet in December 1967. The reason for the split was to give Brubeck an opportunity to concentrate on his writings, most of which were taking the form of religious compositions.

Retirement from the concert stage was short-lived. Before the following year was over, Brubeck had enlisted saxophonist Gerry Mulligan to join him for some concert and studio dates. Although never as popular as the original Quartet, this collaborative effort produced both fine concert recordings (Compadres) and studio efforts (Blues Roots). Both of these Columbia albums are from 1968, a busy year that also saw Brubeck recording his “Oratorio for Today” entitled The Light in The Wilderness. This religious piece would be followed in 1969 by another orchestral work, The Gates of Justice.

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Originally Published