Dave Brubeck is spending his 90th birthday in the midst of his sizeable family and many close friends. Chances are that they will take time out to watch the documentary about his life. As they reminisce, it’s almost certain that Dave will tell a Blackhawk story or two. The club in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district was his quartet’s headquarters for years before and after they became famous. It was the location of a pilot for a television series that never get off the ground. Mort Sahl, a friend and fan of the band, introduced the show. A wide shot near the beginning gives us a full view of the little club somebody once called “the temple of gloom.” The TV lights that day probably gave it the most illumination it ever saw. It was lit up by Brubeck, Miles Davis, Cal Tjader, Count Basie, Chet Baker, Art Tatum, Carmen McRae and most of the other jazz luminaries of the 1950s.
The Blackhawk is long gone. Brubeck is thriving. Here is a rare look at the classic quartet—Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright and Joe Morello—at the Blackhawk:
Happy Birthday, Dave.