On the day before Thanksgiving last week, I pulled my car into the driveway of Dave Brubeck's home in Connecticut. From the front, the residence looks like a Japanese teahouse. But once inside, you realize that it's a modern split-level structure perched on a granite bluff and that the back features two-story, floor-to-ceiling windows with a Heidi view of a rushing stream, pine trees and a lily pond. Architecturally, the house is a brash contemporary statement cloaked in a kimono. I was up at Dave's residence to interview him for the Wall Street Journal. The result appears in today's Personal Journal section of the newspaper on the "Leisure & Arts" page. Or it's online here.
Dave and Iola Brubeck's home was built in 1962 by Beverley D. Thorne, who had designed their contemporary home in Oakland in the early 1950s. Last week I sat with Dave and his wife Iola in the warm confines of a glass-enclosed deck overlooking the New England woods and stream. We spoke for an hour and a half, enjoying the shifting afternoon light. [Photo of the Brubecks' home coutesy of Beverley Thorne]
With the sun flooding the space, Dave spoke about growing up in California, his Army years, the formation of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, wild success and his favorite piano. As you can imagine, it was a lovely time. As sunny as the deck was, the room brightened considerably each time Dave flashed his famed eye-narrowing, open-mouth smile, which was often.
Dave will celebrate his 90th birthday on Monday. Part of the festivities is In His Own Sweet Way, a new documentary produced by Clint Eastwood, directed by Bruce Ricker (Last of the Blue Devils) and written by Hank O'Neal. It will air Monday on TV's Turner Classic Movies (go here for broadcast time and information).
On the CD front, Sony just released three super packages. As part of its Original Album Classics series, the Masterworks division issued a five-CD box that contains Brubeck Plays Brubeck, Brandenburg Gate Revisited, Gone with the Wind, Jazz Goes to College and Jazz Impressions of New York. You'll find the set here.
The second five-CD Masterworks box contains Time Out, Countdown: Time in Outer Space, Time Further Out, Time Changes and Time In. You'll find it here.
All albums in the Masterworks boxes come in mini LP covers akin to those issued in Japan.
The third Dave Brubeck set from Sony Legacy is Legacy of a Legend, a two-CD package. It features 21 tracks from 17 albums—all handpicked by Dave with liner notes by his son Darius. You'll find it at iTunes or here.
Not to be outdone, Concord has just issued The Definitive Dave Brubeck on Fantasy, Concord Jazz and Telarc. It's a two-CD set with 26 tracks dating back to the early 1950s. You'll find it at iTunes or here.
JazzWax clip: Dave told me his favorite all-time Dave Brubeck Quartet recording is Look for the Silver Lining in 1951, which he said blows away any thought that his group might have been an extension of West Coast cool.
Here's the recording for Fantasy. It features Dave on piano, Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, Wyatt Ruther on bass and Herb Barman on drums. It's on the new Concord CD set...