Dave Brubeck was recently among the honorees at the Kennedy Center Honors – televised on December 29th – along with superstars of the American arts scene Robert DeNiro, Mel Brooks, Bruce Springsteen and opera singer Grace Bumbry. Since I’m guessing few people caught the televised special – hello, it’s the holiday season, we’re with family at the movies! – I thought I’d share a video clip of the Brubeck portion of the program.
Dave is handsome in his tux, on the day of his 89th birthday, surrounded by fellow honorees and President & Mrs. Obama, watching an all-star band play some of his best known songs.
Pianist Bill Charlap leads the group as they begin with “Unsquare Dance”, bassist Christian McBride gets the intro as the quintet is introduced. As they start into the classic “Take Five”, the US Army Field Band is revealed – Brubeck formed the Army’s first integrated jazz band during World War II, where he also met his future collaborator, saxophonist Paul Desmond. Saxophonist Miguel Zinon & trumpeter Jon Faddis have nice solo moments.
The group then moves into Dave’s tune “Blue Rondo A La Turk” and a few bars in, his four musician sons are revealed to be playing the tune on the other side of the stage – Darius on piano, Dan on drums, Chris on trombone & Matthew playing cello – all the kids got solo time as Dave looked on from the balcony, obviously moved.
As the performance wraps up, the audience stood in appreciation and Herbie Hancock – arranger for the set? – stepped onto the stage to applaud as well. Hey, enough description, check it out yourself!