WBGO Radar

Dan Brubeck Quartet: “Celebrating the Music and Lyrics of Dave and Iola Brubeck”

dan brubeck CD

Dave Brubeck proposed to his wife Iola on their first date.  They were married almost seventy years.  

Dave's success first happened with college concerts in the 1950s.  Iola’s idea.  She thought the new generation of students after WWII might like jazz.  

She was right, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet catapulted Dave onto the cover of Time in 1954 — five years before the DBQ recorded his greatest hits.

Not only did “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and "Take Five” make Time Out the first platinum jazz album, Dave's quartet albums in the 50s and 60s popularized modern jazz around the world.

Dave said that music saved his life in the war.  He was heading for the front with Patton’s tanks, when a USO organizer needed someone to play piano for a camp show.  

Dave was so angered by war that he became an activist for peace and a musical ambassador.  When he observed his great friend Louis Armstrong having an extraordinary impact for peace touring for the U.S. State Department, Dave composed a musical about Ambassador Satch and Iola wrote the lyrics.  

Dave recorded The Real Ambassadors with Pops himself.  He also made several albums with Carmen McRae singing Brubeck songs.

Iola’s lyrics were smart and full of heart and hope, like Iola’s and Dave’s life together.  Four of their six kids became professional musicians: pianist Darius, cellist Matthew, bassist Chris, and drummer Dan.  

Dan lives in Vancouver, BC, where he’s recorded a double album of Brubeck songs at a local club called The Cellar.  

Dan’s quartet on the 2-CD album includes saxophonist Steve Kaldestad, pianist Tony Foster, and bassist Adam Thomas singing (with a casual charm) more than a dozen songs of Dan’s mom and dad.  

“In Your Own Sweet Way.”  “Strange Meadowlark.” “It’s a Raggy Waltz.”  Some of Dave’s religious songs, several songs from The Real Ambassadors, and the climactically inevitable hits “Blue Rondo” and “Take Five.”

Have a listen to all the songs of the Dan Brubeck Quartet “Celebrating the Music and Lyrics of Dave and Iola Brubeck” at wbgo.org/radar.

  - Michael Bourne, host oF WBGO's Afternoon Jazz & Singers Unlimited

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