Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The DVD, "Rediscovering Dave Brubeck," was produced by PBS in 2001 and is a fine overview of this geniuses long and productive life in jazz. Brubeck fought for his own style, blending classical and jazz with a unique sense of swing and time. He once said his secret was playing music that that no one else could play.
You learn of Brubeck's upbringing on a California ranch (taught piano by his cultured mother; taught ranching by his uncultured father), his education, and his matchless career as a jazz innovator. Mr. Brubeck was about 80 at the time of the interviews for this program, and he provides sanguine reflections on his storied and satisfying career. Jazz critics Ted Gioia and Stanley Crouch also provide astute commentary on Brubeck, as do other friends, producers, and collaborators.
The DVD lacks any complete performances of any of Brubeck's pieces, which is a loss. Nevertheless, one gets a good sense of the drive and genius of Dave Brubeck, who recently turned 90 and who is still writing and performing.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
While as a rule, I dislike Christmas music (especially pop tunes, not the classic hymns), some of them are real jazz: they swing and improvise on the standards forms. It helps when one cannot avoid Christmas music in stores, some of which is nothing less than appalling.