Whether sponsored by the State Department or off to see the world on their own, the Dave Brubeck Quartet practiced their share of cultural diplomacy in the 1950s and ’60s. You Tube, that never-ending source of surprises and occasional frustrations, has come up with video of the DBQ on a 1962 Australian television program. The story goes that the tape of the show was lost for more than two decades and barely saved from destruction once it was found. It includes contrived conversations that, like the host’s introductions, sound scripted. Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Gene Wright and Joe Morello appear amused by the awkward show-biz schtick. Their playing is correspondingly light-hearted.
The program includes a rarity in the Brubeck canon, a guest vocalist, Laurie Loman, who manages to lose track of the number of bars in “When You’re Smiling.” Unfazed, Desmond follows with a solo on a song he may have been playing for the first time. He works in a quote from “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” perfect for the circumstances. The program is divided into seven You Tube segments, all of which you will find on this page.
Brubeck disbanded the quartet in 1967, so he could devote his time and energy to composing long-form works. The next year he completed his oratorio The Light In The Wilderness, which he still presents when he can marshal the musical troops it requires. He gave the piece its fortieth-anniversary performance last night in Athens, Georgia. As usual, his wife is on the road with him. In The Atlanta Journal-Constituion Bo Emerson has a story about Brubeck working with an orchestra and chorus to prepare the piece.
Iola Brubeck is in the adjoining room at the Holiday Inn in Athens, working on a laptop, busy writing the history of the man she married 65 years ago. A laptop? Dave Brubeck doesn’t mess around with that kind of keyboard. Says his longtime conductor Russell Gloyd, “Dave has trouble with the pause button on his tape player.”
The tape player may outfox him, but Brubeck handles larger forces with aplomb. During a weeklong residency at the University of Georgia, which continues through Friday, he will (with Gloyd’s assistance) command a 140-voice choir, a full-sized symphony orchestra, a big band, a jazz vocal ensemble and his quartet.
To read all of Emerson’s story, go here.
Comment On The Australian Video
In 1962 I was still at school in New Zealand,and I flew up from my home
town to Auckland in a DC-3 so I could see the concert.
They must have gone to New Zealand either before or after the Australia
I still have the program somewhere!