Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dave Brubeck is 85

Christopher Orlet pays tribute to Dave Brubeck on his 85th:

WITH THE DAVE BRUBECK Quartet jazz was for the first time embraced by a mainstream audience, largely due to the Quartet's appeal to white college kids. Critics, of course, considered such vulgar popularity a sign of weakness. "The jazz world likes to view itself as outsiders from popular culture," said jazz critic Ted Gioia. "And jazz people are always uneasy whenever one of the fraternity crosses over to this large public audience." Jazz musicians were uneasy too, suspicious of anything not sticking to the familiar Kansas City four-four. "You don't swing," Miles Davis once sneered at Brubeck. Later, Miles had to admit that Brubeck did in fact swing, but insisted his band didn't.

Of course Brubeck did swing, and he was cool, in the sense that Elvis Presley was cool. And William S. Burroughs and later Andy Warhol. In the sense that he was a creator, not an imitator. Uninterested in the pose of the sulky, anti-social tough-guy, Brubeck wanted to be cool on his own terms; a jazzman, yes, but an essentially decent human being too.


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