O Rare Dave Brubeck

In the past few days, three videos have materialized of a 1956 television performance by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. They show the group after Brubeck was elevated to general fame by way of a TIME magazine cover story but before Joe Morello and Eugene Wright replaced Joe Dodge and Norman Bates on drums and bass. As I wrote in Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond,
Brubeck Time.jpg

It may be difficult for anyone who grew up after the pervasive hype of television and the omnipresence of the internet diluted the impact of print, to understand the power of a cover story in TIME. It brought massive attention to the subject and made him, or her, an instant celebrity. Brubeck’s career had begun to show that it had the potential for steady, respectable growth. Now it took off. Sales of his records leaped, not only of the new Columbias with Desmond, Bates and Dodge, but the Fantasys as well. The Quartet’s bookings increased and its fees grew exponentially.

Dodge resigned and Morello came aboard in the fall of ’56, so the TV program was most likely in the spring or summer of that year. As too frustratingly often with You Tube, the person who posted the videos gives no information about the program – not the date, the name of the show, the name of the host, the call letters of the station or the name of the city. I am attempting to dig up those facts. Stay tuned.
Of course, the music is what matters. The importance of Bates and Dodge to the early quartet has been obscured by the attention given Wright and Morello in the “classic” Brubeck Quartet following the massive success of “Take Five” in the early sixties. This is a rare chance to see Bates and Dodge and hear what a well-integrated band this was. To eliminate the bother of following links to YouTube, the Rifftides public service department brings you all three segments, totaling nearly 25 minutes. Enjoy.

If anyone out there in the blogosphere knows the missing who, when and where of these clips, please use the Comments link below.

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  1. Ed Leimbacher says

    thanks for these. brought me all the way back to my first taste of Brubeck and Desmond, which was not long after these performances. i have no helpful knowledge but note three oddities (maybe): the host stumbles when mentioning San Francisco in first clip; second one indicates the show usually featured Classical music; and third the host says no need to explain why “The Trolley Song” has been chosen. any clues in those?

  2. Hal Strack says

    What an absolute treat! I had not seen these or known about them. Paul is his usual creative, lyrical self, if the choruses are abbreviated. He seems to just caress the horn as he plays. But to also see and hear lightly swinging Joe Dodge and Bob Bates on the footage was a rare pleasure. As you know, Joe Dodge was one of Paul’s two favorite drummers. He is certainly far and away the best with whom I ever played, and some of them were not too shabby. Thank you so much for making the footage available.

  3. Aloha Al says

    The host mentions “Music Showcase” as the title of his classical music television series – might be worth researching that title under 1956 TV shows.
    P. S. The host signs off by thanking viewers for joining him for (what
    sounds something like) part two of “Festival Adventures(?)”
    The Trolley Song was chosen because Brubeck hailed from San Francisco.