Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Dave Brubeck at the Kennedy Center Honors

It’s only once in a blue moon that the Kennedy Center Honors, the Washington institution’s annual lifetime achievement awards for American performing arts, salutes a jazz musician. The last instance was in 1996, when Benny Carter was honored-and that, allegedly, took President Clinton’s intervention, since the revered-in-jazz Carter was unknown to most of America. This year, however, the Kennedy Center found that rare overlap of genuine innovation and popular acclaim in Dave Brubeck. The pianist and composer was feted in Washington on Dec. 6, his 89th birthday, at a ceremony (taped by CBS for broadcast) attended by a cross-section of Hollywood royalty and D.C. power players including President and Mrs. Obama, Vice President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi.

Brubeck was part of a five-person honor roll that also included rocker Bruce Springsteen, opera diva Grace Bumbry, comedian and film director Mel Brooks and actor Robert De Niro. The tribute to Brubeck was the evening’s second (after De Niro’s), with a presentation anchored by fellow pianist Herbie Hancock.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published