Jazz legend Dave Brubeck turns 85 years old December 20, and despite his age he shows no signs of slowing down. As VOA's Doug Levine tells us, Brubeck is celebrating by doing what he's been doing for the past five decades, releasing a new album and going on tour.
Calling it quits was never an option for the pianist and composer who once graced the cover of Time magazine, the first jazz artist ever to do so. Brubeck reached another milestone when his quartet recorded one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, Time Out, featuring the hit song "Take Five."
Ironically, taking time out for even five minutes to rest on his many accomplishments has never occurred to Brubeck, who once remarked, "If you're reaching the people and they're feeling that beat, you swing."
Dave Brubeck was born on his parents' cattle ranch in Concord, California. He entered college as veterinary science major, but by graduation had switched to music. After serving four years in the Army during World War II, Brubeck returned from Europe and formed an award-winning trio that featured jazz guitarist Cal Tjader.
In 1951, Brubeck and saxophonist Paul Desmond assembled the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Playing odd-metered rhythms, the group made jazz history with the breakthrough recordings Jazz Goes To College, Time Out and others. The Quartet's Live At Carnegie Hall album from 1963 is considered one of Brubeck's greatest concerts.
Forty-two years later, the albums, the concerts and the accolades keep on coming.
Dave Brubeck's latest release is a reflection of his travels during his "40th Anniversary Tour of the U.K." in 1998.
Ever the storyteller, Brubeck recalls, "We traveled by bus through Great Britain for a week, from town to town, and I thought the rides were awfully long. When I complained the promoters explained that next week everyone would be in a London flat, to which I responded, 'That would be sharp.'" Thus the title of his new album, London Flat, London Sharp.
In support of the release, The Dave Brubeck Quartet will launch a four-month concert tour at Carnegie Hall in New York on June 24.