In the 1950s, Jazz—the most American of art forms—experienced dramatic change as several contrasting styles vied for the public’s attention. Big Band Swing, popularized by Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington, partially gave way to Bebop, the hard-driving and frenetic music most associated with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Meanwhile, Miles Davis, who played in “Mr. Parker’s Band,” was transforming ballads and otherwise offering a softer sound, e.g., the Birth of the Cool sessions and the lush orchestral sounds typified by Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain, etc., and the modal sound of his classic “Kind of Blue” (the subject of our 2019 summer jazz service). Flying somewhat under the radar was Dave Brubeck, first with his octet and, later more famously, with his integrated quartet.
Brubeck was born and raised in northern California. His dad was a cattle rancher, and his mom was an accomplished musician. He served in WW II, leading an integrated army band. Unlike many jazz musicians of his era, he did not become addicted to drugs. He helped usher in what has been called West Coast Jazz, sometimes panned by the critics as not jazz at all. But what is jazz, if not a form of expression that celebrates freedom?
Join us, via Zoom, on Sunday, August 16, 2020, and take “Time Out” as we explore Dave Brubeck’s life and his contributions to music and humanity. Mark St. Hilaire will play a few bars and explain how Brubeck employed unusual time signatures in his most famous compositions. The service will begin at 9:00 am with some musical preludes at 8:45 am. We hope you can be there and enjoy it.
In Jazz We Trust,
June 23, 2020