Dave Brubeck Honored at Kennedy Center

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!

8 Replies to “Dave Brubeck Honored at Kennedy Center”

  1. This was simply AWESOME!!! Having been a fan of Dave Brubeck for years, seeing him numerous times, having him autograph my “Time Signatures” CD box, I too was most moved by this 7 minutes. Thank you very much for sharing.


  2. The arranger was the musical director for the show, Rob Mathes. Herbie actually performed with us (The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors) during the performance of Take Five, but it was unfortunately cut from the television broadcast. Let me tell you, it was awesome!

  3. The all-star quintet(Bill Charlap, Jon Faddis, Bill Stewart, Christian McBride) played two other tunes before “Take Five”- In Your Own Sweet Way, and The Duke. Trust me, it was great!

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