No ‘TIME OUT’ For busy Brubeck

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Illustration by Cynthia Wells

The 83-year-old musician will perform a collection of his jazz melodies at Pepperdine University on Sunday.

By Judy-Anne Goldman/Special to The Malibu Times

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck will take the stage at Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

“It’s a great place to play,” Brubeck said. Sunday will mark his seventh performance on the Malibu campus. “I always look forward to playing there. The crowds are great and the faculty and staff are great.”

The concert will feature Brubeck with bassist Michael Moore, saxophonist/flutist Bobby Militello and drummer Randy Jones.

“I saw Tommy Smothers the other day and said, ‘Tommy, I’m playing in your auditorium next week!’ He said, ‘Dave, that’s not my auditorium.’ We always called it the Smothers Brothers Theatre. This will be the first time playing there that I won’t think it’s theirs,” Brubeck said.

A California native, Brubeck’s career began in the 1950s with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Success came quickly through an enthusiastic American public, though critics were slower to warm to the group’s innovations, dubbed “West Coast Cool Jazz.” The quartet performed and recorded with famous jazz figures Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Rushing and Carmen McRae, and while experimenting with jazz performed with symphony orchestras, joined forces with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

In 1954, Brubeck became the first jazz musician featured on the cover of TIME magazine, which proclaimed him responsible for “the birth of a new kind of jazz age in the U.S.”

The popularity of the quartet proved it had a firm foothold in music history when its 1959 album, “TIME OUT,” became the first million-selling jazz record in modern jazz history. Through musical pieces such as the classic “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” the group pioneered a jazz method of improvised syncopated music that inspired other musicians worldwide.

Over the past 50 years, Brubeck has garnered numerous honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; induction into the Pantheon of the Arts at the University of the Pacific, DOWN BEAT Hall of Fame, the Jazz Institute Hall of Fame at Rutgers University and the International Jazz Hall of Fame; the American Eagle Award from the National Music Council; honorary doctorates from six American universities and one from the University of Duisberg, Germany; and a citation by the French government for his contribution to the arts.

He has performed before eight U.S. presidents, as well as princes, kings, heads of state and Pope John Paul II.

At 83, Brubeck still keeps up an active pace touring and composing. He continues to be a force in jazz innovation.

Asked what shapes his compositions, he stated, “The world. Always the world. Right now I’m working on a fugue based on the words, ‘Are you or have you ever been a Democrat or a Republican?’ Shades of the past. McCarthyism. The ideas

are political, about what’s happening now.”

Malibu will be among five California stops on Brubeck’s current U.S. tour. His schedule and newsletter can be found on his Web site at www.brubeckinstitute.org.

Tickets are $50 for the Pepperdine appearance and can be obtained by calling the box office at 310.506.4522 or TicketMaster at 213.365.35500.