Since his death on December 5, the tributes to Dave Brubeck keep appearing all over the world in print, on the air and through the internet. His oldest son Darius, who was with his father at the end, sent us a link to the article he wrote at the request of South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper. This excerpt touches on the social consciousness that guided Brubeck from the earliest days of his career:
I lived in South Africa from 1983 to 2005, teaching jazz at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, and my wife, Cathy, is South African, so sometimes people assume Dave must have had a South African connection too. Actually there is no ancestral or other background connection, but through us, South Africa became important to him.
The New Brubeck Quartet (Dave, Chris, Dan and I) toured South Africa in 1976, of all years, albeit before the declaration of the UN cultural boycott. Dave had been an outspoken campaigner for civil rights in the American South in the 1960s and it didn’t take long for him to see that while coming to South Africa may have been a mistake, he could also make demands that might do some good.
He insisted on a local opening act, Malombo, and hired Victor Ntoni to play acoustic bass with us. Even though we were self-contained with my brother Chris playing electric bass, this was a way to ‘integrate’ our group.
To read all of Darius Brubeck’s remembrance, go here.
In this video from the tribute to Brubeck, Sr. at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, his sons—Darius, Chris, Danny and Matthew—surprised their dad as part of an all-star tribute. It was December 6, 2009, his 89th birthday.
Since Brubeck’s death, that clip has been seen on YouTube more than a quarter of a million times.