Brubeck Brothers Quartet playing Dave’s music

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet — playing Friday and Saturday at The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz — “very consciously tried,” in bassist and trombonist Chris Brubeck’s words, to “do music that wasn’t Dave’s music.”

Dave, of course, being jazz giant Dave Brubeck, the father of Chris and his brother Dan, the quartet’s drummer.

They and the quartet’s “honorary brothers” — guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb — didn’t want “people to think of us as a ghost band,” Chris says in a telephone interview.

But when it came time for them to plan their next album, something changed their minds.

“We knew Dave was getting older and not going to be with us forever,” he says. “And we thought, ‘We want to make sure he gets how much we love his music.’ ”

Dave Brubeck died Dec. 5, 2012 — a day before his 92nd birthday.

But he lived long enough to hear the quartet’s interpretations of such classics as “Take Five” (the original Dave Brubeck Quartet theme song, written by saxophonist Paul Desmond) and “Kathy’s Waltz,” written for Chris and Dan’s sister, featured on their album “LifeTimes.”

And what was their father’s reaction to their revamped versions of his trademark songs?

“He just had a great big (expletive)-eating grin on his face,” Chris says.

Other listeners had a similar reaction; “LifeTimes” wound up as the seventh most-played recording on jazz radio in 2012 and made numerous 10-best lists.

“It got us a ton of airplay — and a ton of recognition,” Dan notes in a separate telephone interview.

And this weekend, Cabaret Jazz audiences will have the chance to experience the quartet’s “different take on a lot of Dave’s popular stuff,” he says, plus other tunes “people hadn’t heard that, for us, had meaning.”

An example of the latter: “The Jazzanians,” which “came off a Trio Brubeck record” Dan produced in 1993 — and was written to honor the multiracial South African student band led by eldest Brubeck brother Darius. (Chris and Dan Brubeck previously played with their father and their brother Darius in Two Generations of Brubeck and the New Brubeck Quartet.)

Because the Brubeck Brothers Quartet features DeMicco on guitar rather than Desmond on sax, even the most familiar Brubeck songs have a fresh sound.

On “Kathy’s Waltz,” for example, “we ended up screwing around with it,” Chris Brubeck says, adding “a kind of reggae influence” that “didn’t even exist” when his father’s quartet recorded the tune in 1959. “But as a musical language for us, that made sense.”

Similarly, the quartet’s “Take Five” sports a “second-line groove” straight out of New Orleans — an element you might hear on a Dr. John or Neville Brothers’ tune,” Chris says.

That sort of musical gumbo reflects their father’s interest in, and promotion of, what we now know as “world music,” reflecting influences from Turkey (“Blue Rondo a la Turk,” featured in the movie “Wedding Crashers”), India (“Unsquare Dance,” which turned up on both the “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Blind Side” soundtracks) and points between.

“All those different cultures bled into his music — he was always very curious about other music,” Dan says. “Starting with classical, he tried to assimilate things into his music.”

Given their DNA, it’s hardly surprising that the Dan and Chris (along with pianist Darius and another brother, cellist Matthew) decided to make music their livelihoods.

Yet the urge to make music “didn’t come from the top down,” Dan says, noting how he “had the joy” of listening in on his father’s rehearsals with his musical colleagues — who sometimes “would jam with us” between rehearsals.

“Everyone in our family just felt happy to be into it — we had encouragement, but not pressure,” Chris says. “I think there was some kind of karma. It’s not just an accident that our little souls” were able to take advantage of “the opportunity to make so much music together.”

And “the thing I learned the most,” Chris adds, “is that there is a magical chemistry that can happen between you and the audience.”

Both Brubeck brothers saw it countless times watching their father, who “used to be very scared” appearing in public — so scared “he could hardly announce the names of the guys in the group,” Chris says. Six decades later, Dave Brubeck was so comfortable in front of audiences he would easily launch into folksy “Will Rogers mode.”

Dave Brubeck may be gone. But the quartet’s experiences playing his music at jazz festivals from coast to coast have convinced Dan that “there is a lot of truth in the old saying that someone’s spirit lives on through their music. It turned out to be very true — and really nice to keep his spirit alive.”

What’s more, “we’re having a lot of fun doing it,” he says. “It’s kind of ironic — because we were trying very hard not to play Dave’s music.”

Contact reporter Carol Cling at or 702-383-0272.

Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like