© - Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
Friday, January 27, 2023
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
“[Billie] Holiday featured the composition at a Carnegie Hall concert, and over the next several years "There Is No Greater Love" occasionally appeared on bandstands and at studio sessions. But Miles Davis's recording of "There Is No Greater Love" from November 1955 and Sonny Rollins's version from his 1957 trio project Way Out West were more influential than any of these precedents in entrenching this piece in the set lists of modern jazz players.
The song is typically played at a relaxed medium tempo, but adapts easily to other pulses. The melody unfolds with a sense of pleasing inevitability — as is often the case with Isham Jones's compositions, which tend to avoid drama and surprising shifts, instead satisfying the ear with the natural, unaffected way the phrases connect to one another. This holistic quality to "There Is No Greater Love" also allows it to maintain its inner logic even when subjected to radical reworkings.”
- Ted Gioia - The Jazz Standards, A Guide to the Repertoire 
Every so often a new recording comes along that just unfolds in a rollicking, swinging manner that get my fingers poppin’ and toes tappin,’
Nothing complicated by way of repertoire: some selections from the Great American Songbook and a smattering of tunes that have become Jazz standards that have familiar melodies which make it easy for my ears to follow what’s being improvised over these structures.
Besides their well known melodies, whatever the tempo, each track is played with an insistent beat and creates a forward motion to the rhythm often referred to as Swing.
Also helpful is the fact that the recording was made in performance with an energetic and enthusiastic audience appreciatively urging the musicians along.
All of which comes together to make for the hour or so of satisfying music which can be found on the recently released Storyville CD There is No Greater Love .
Recorded live in Copenhagen at the famous jazzhus Montmartre on May 20-21, 2016 the recording features pianist Dado Moroni, bassist Jesper Lundgaard and drummer Lee Pearson.
Here’s more about how this fine recording came about from Christian Brorsen’s insert notes. Christian was the producer and jazzhus Montmartre’s Musical Director from 2011-2016.
“The story behind this recording had its starting point in a series of concerts in honor of Danish bassist Niels-Henning 0rsted Pedersen, who would have been 70 years old in May 2016. NH0P was a virtuoso who took bass playing to a new level, both technically and musically - the importance of which
cannot be overstated in the history of jazz. A crucial period in his career was his collaboration with Oscar Peterson, who admired NH0P for his colossal creative energy and ability to instantly turn any musical idea into reality.
Our challenge was to find musicians capable of captivating an audience with this same musical mastery, pushing music that swings like mad to the brink of what is possible. And Dado Moroni, Jesper Lundgaard and Lee Pearson do precisely that. Listening to this recording, it's hard to believe their total preparation time was a couple of hours on the day of the concert. No rehearsal. Not even a sound check, just three musicians who quickly found a natural compatibility, thanks to decades of training in the great American piano-trio tradition.
Otherwise, the music speaks for itself. These are three equally gifted musicians who aren't shy about displaying their talent. The music flows effortlessly and is constantly creative - evidence that the band was definitely feeling good that evening. Many thanks to Dado, Jesper and Lee for (re)confirming that as a form of culture, jazz is absolutely alive and well. Also, a big thank-you to Mik Neumann for producing such a fine recording. It's almost like being there - again!
About the Musicians: Jesper Lundgaard (Denmark) was the natural choice as bassist for this trio. With his awesome technique, comprehensive overview and infallible rhythm, he has been a member of Tommy Flanagan, Duke Jordan and Horace Parian's trios, among others.
A generation younger than Lundgaard, Lee Pearson (USA) was brought up by Hank Jones and Kenny Barron. With his energy and humor, he is capable of igniting any trio. (American drummers seem to have a special knack for this!)
Pianist Dado Moroni (Italy) has played with NH0P, yet is by no means an Oscar Peterson clone. With his fertile creativity he has adapted elements of Peterson (and other American piano masters) to his own unique style and incorporated them into a "European" context. A spell-binding crowd-pleaser!
Christian Brorsen Producer and Jazzhus Montmartre's Musical Director - 2011-2016
We are also fortunate in being able to share with you some of the music from this recording so you can actually hear it rather than just read about it.
Monday, January 23, 2023
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Part 5- Dave Brubeck [1920-2012] - The Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program NEA Jazz Master Interviews
© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
As you read the fifth and concluding installment of the multi-part interview with Dave Brubeck, one of the most influential musicians in the pantheon of 20th Century Jazz Greats and one of the kindest and considerate people to ever inhabit the Jazz World, please keep in mind that he was 87 years old at the time it was undertaken.
The details from such a long and illustrious career may have a tendency to cloud over with the passage of time, hence the occasional promptings and chronological clarifications by Ted Gioia, who is himself a Jazz pianist and a noted author of numerous books on the subject of Jazz, and who excels in his role as a sensitive interviewer.
The Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program NEA Jazz Master interviews are provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
DAVE BRUBECK NEA Jazz Master (1999) Interviewees: Dave Brubeck (December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012) with Russell Gloyd and (August only) Iola Brubeck
Interviewers: Ted Gioia with recording engineer Ken Kimery
Date: August 6-7, 2007 Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution Description: Transcript, 90 pp.
Track markers were accidentally embedded into the original recording in such a way as to lose a few words at the breaks. Square brackets and five spaces – [ ] – indicate these small gaps in the transcription.
Gioia: Tell me about Joe Morello coming into the quartet. How did that change things? And is it true that Paul Desmond was unhappy with that change in the band?
Dave: Paul Desmond asked me to go hear Joe Morello. He was playing at the Hickory House with Marian McPartland. We were at the Blue Note. So we went over there during our intermission. This marvelous drummer. He was playing with brushes. Paul just loved somebody that played brushes and didn’t interrupt with some hard licks with sticks and clashing cymbals. So he said, as long as Joe Dodge has to go home to San Francisco, maybe this is the guy. So I talked to Joe. Joe was going to be on a vacation, because Marian McPartland was going home to London. So he would be out of work until she returned, which was quite a while. So he said, “I’m interested in your group, but your drummer’s out to lunch. I want to be featured.” I said, “That’s interesting, Joe. What do you mean ‘featured’?” He said, “Doing solos and experimenting and really doing some things I’d like to do.” I said that would be fine with me. Our next and first job together was in Chicago at the Blue Note. In the first set, at the end of the first set, I gave Joe a solo. He tore the place up and got a standing ovation. Joe always says, “a little standing ovation.” How can you get a little standing ovation? Then we went [ ] room, and Paul came in and said, “He goes or I go.” I said, “Paul, he’s not going to go. I like very much the direction we can go. Things I’ve wanted to do clear back to the octet: different time signatures and things with the trio.” So he said he’s leaving, and the bass player, Norman [Bates] was going to go with him. The next day I had a session at Columbia in Chicago. Those guys stood out on the other side of the control booth and wouldn’t come in. So Joe and I played for about three hours. I don’t know what happened to it. Then we went to the job that night, thinking, it’s going to be a duet. Just when it was time to start, they came in, just on time, walking into the club. So I was able to save my group. I don’t know what I would have done, but I would have gone without them, because I could see where Joe and I were going to go. You know, Joe could play a different tempo with each hand and each foot at the same time. I’ve never seen anybody that had that much control. Now, there might be guys in this world at that time that had that much dexterity, but I hadn’t heard them. I knew this guy’s a phenomenon. So I was so happy, and Paul was so unhappy. That’s a terrible situation, when you’ve got two star players and they’re not getting along. It took years for them to come together – like Joe said, he loved Paul. At the end of Paul’s life, it was one of Joe’s students that Joe asked to go live with Paul, when he was dying. They became so close to each other. Everybody in the group was close to each other. Eugene Wright was so wonderful all those years.
Gioia: The quartet disbands at the end of 1967. How’d that come about?
Dave: I wanted to be with my family. I gave the guys a year’s notice, which no-one believed. It was documented by NBC with . . .
Iola: Chet Huntley
Dave: . . . Huntley and Brinkley Report. We were playing in Pittsburgh in a big hotel with a big ballroom. They announced – Iola, you can remember – a national . . .
Iola: An American institution.
Dave: An American institution.
Iola: The end of an American institution.
Dave: So it was big news. That was the announcement on that news channel that almost everybody heard. Then going to the airport the next day in the car to go home, Joe said, “Dave, I know you’ll be calling me next week.” I said, “Joe, I don’t think so. This is it.” He said, “Aw, you’ll call me.” The guys could not accept [ ]. Paul, and at times Gene, did play with me. Right up to his death Paul was playing some concerts with me, even when he was so ill that he had to have transfusions all day long. He came to my concert at Lincoln Center so he could play his last concert. He played his first concert with me and his last concert with me. At the end he – we got an encore and Paul said, “I can’t go back, even one more.”
Gioia: Both of you are native Californians, but you’ve moved to Connecticut. How did that happen? When did that happen? Why?
Dave: We came for a year. I talked the wife, Iola, and the family into making a move, and we’d go back to our wonderful home in Montclair, outside of Oakland.
Gioia: What year would that have been that you moved out here? Dave: 1960.
Iola: Did you ever see our house in Oakland, Heartwood Drive?
Iola: It’s still there. It was very outstanding at the time that it was built. I guess people still drive by to look at it, because it was one of the first cantilevered houses.
Dave: It cost $27,000. I just closed in my sun porch, which cost $40,000.
Gioia: There’s been a little bit of inflation. So you came out here for a year, and you decided to stay.
Dave: We were here, and the kids liked the school system. Everything seemed to work out here. At that time, some of the school situation in Oakland wasn’t going as well as it had been. Is that how to put it? It was better out here by far.
Iola: In high school, yeah. The lower grades were fine, because that was more neighborhood, but once you got to a central high school, it was getting pretty tough in Oakland. But the main reason was that there were not that many places on the West Coast to play. So Dave was spending most of his time on an airplane going back and forth to the East Coast.
Dave: And recording out here.
Gioia: So the proximity to New York made this a good location. There were good schools. It’s a beautiful setting too.
Dave: My A&R man from New York . . .
Iola: Irving Townsend.
Dave: . . . Irving Townsend said, “I am going to be head of Columbia on the West Coast, so I am leaving my house. It would be a great place for you to live while you’re out here for a year.” It was a great place, right here in Wilton. We found our property where we are and decided to build here and to live here. I can’t believe Iola, that’s fourth generation California, and I’m second at least, maybe more, California – and I wanted all of our kids born in California. If we were on tour, I’d say to Iola, “Go home.” So now - we had five children when we moved here, and then we had one more in Connecticut that isn’t a Californian, Matthew. But the school [ ], they were fantastic in this area.
Gioia: Let me focus on 1971. Columbia starts going through turmoil. They’re changing their roster. They’re moving away from a lot of the jazz acts, and your contract is terminated at that point. How did that happen? What were your reactions? Why did that happen?
Dave: It’s a strange thing. I didn’t know that I had been terminated. No-one told me. I forget how I finally found out.
Iola: I know.
Gloyd: Jim Bancroft [attorney] came to negotiate a new deal. He called up the business [?].
Dave: You tell them.
Iola: The attorneys came to negotiate, because it was time to renew the contract. Every year it had been renewed just sort of automatically. No-one even talked about it. It just renewed. So when they said that their business, the reason they had come, was to negotiate Dave’s next contract, then they said, “Oh, there’s nothing to negotiate. We’ve dropped him.”
Gloyd: “We dropped him six months ago.”
Iola: No notification, even.
Gloyd: There was another artist they dropped at the same time too, which proved a very funny story.
Iola: Tony . . .
Dave: I will sell that story. There was a world meeting of – Columbia representatives from every part of the world were meeting in New York. They request who they’d like to hear of their artists. It’s usually someone that they’ve done business with for years and is doing well. That’s who would entertain at their gathering. So Goddard Lieberson, then president of Columbia, called me and said, “Could you come in and play for the Columbia meeting.” I said, “I’m no longer – I’ve been dropped from your company.” See, he’d been kicked upstairs and Clive Davis, I think, was moved in to be president. Goddard was running the Yankees – the baseball team – a children’s store . . .
Iola: A conglomerate of industries. But Clive Davis was the head of the record.
Dave: So I got to the meeting. Everybody’s glad to see me, like they have been for years. I see Tony Bennett. I say hello. I said, “Tony, I don’t belong here.” He said, “Why?” I said, “They’ve dropped me, and yet Goddard has begged me to come and play.” He said, “They’ve dropped me too, and Goddard asked me to come.” So here are the guys that have dropped. I’ll tell you, we had done a good job for Columbia over the years.
Gioia: And still do. Those recordings still sell in huge numbers.
Dave: I remember seeing Tony go through a low period, and then, because of his son or something, to get back to Columbia and just go sky-high in sales. He’s still doing it. I could be doing it too, but there’s problems [ ]. I’m still with the label, but no agreements or anything. They’re mostly sending out my old records and repackaging them, instead of – they should be doing new things if they want to keep up to date with me. But I have three other companies now, Telarc, Concord, and old Fantasy, all under one big company. So I’m doing fine, but I’m not doing what I should be doing with SONY Legacy.
Gioia: Around the same time, jazz musicians are starting to play synthesizers, wearing psychedelic clothes, trying to become rock stars. But it seems to me Dave – I look at your career and it seems like you never – I was talking to Ken about this last night. I can’t think of a single project you did that seemed really overtly commercial, or something that you did for the money. But there must have been pressure on you to try to do commercial things.
Gioia: Can you talk about that?
Dave: Somebody told me recently that there’s 160 CDs where I’m the leader. I don’t know if there’s that many . . .
Gioia: There could well be.
Dave: . . . but I can’t think of one that was done strictly as a commercial thing, except maybe Red, Hot, and Cool. That was done so quickly, without me really knowing about it. But it’s a good album.
Iola: I was going to say, Dave, the musical content had nothing to do with it. It was the promotional aspects of it . . .
Gioia: It was very commercial, I’ll say, because the music is fine.
Iola: . . . that they [Revlon] connected, the lipstick and the cover and that sort of thing. But the musical content had nothing with it. You would put that out probably anyway, with a different cover, if they hadn’t made this commercial tie-in.
Dave: So I guess I haven’t done a real commercial idea on any of the recordings. If I have, it’s few and far between.
Gioia: You played a little bit, I think, of Fender Rhodes electric piano. Never extensively, but dabbled with it. What was your reaction when these electric keyboards came into use?
Dave: It might have been early in this whole business. I had a Baldwin electric piano. I had written a piece that was recorded on Decca, where it needed a kind of organ sound for one sound. I brought along that one keyboard and pressed the “organ” button. Do you remember that?
Iola: Was that Truth is Fallen?
Gloyd: No, Gates of Justice.
Dave: [The] Gates of Justice.
Dave: So that’s the only time. But my sons have used synthesizers and electric keyboards.
Gioia: Let’s talk about Two Generations of Brubeck. Does it make it easier to be a bandleader, or does it make it harder? Like when you collaborated on The Real Ambassadors. How does that change the dynamic? Or does it? Is it just like any other band?
Dave: Right now, my sons will tell me, “When are we going to play together again, Dad?” They want [ ]. So the important thing is at the end of your life, your sons really want to play with you. There were times when we were going out as a family group, where there would be disagreements from the wives of the sons. That puts the sons in a situation where they have a pull between, am I loyal to the old man or am I going to have divorce coming up? When that happened, fortunately I usually lost, because I didn’t want to be the reason that their marriage went to pieces. Then the marriage always went to pieces after I bowed out. That happened with my own sidemen that I had for years. “Come home, or I’m getting a divorce.” He goes home, and they get a divorce. My sons have been really wonderful to me, and they’ve been wonderful to Iola. I went through period where their wives were accusing me of things that my sons now wouldn’t dream. At the time they might go along, saying, “Oh, is that true?” to their wives. Saying, “Is that what he’s doing, taking advantage of me?” When I told my attorney, Jim Bancroft, he was saying that the salaries were a little different when I hired my sons. They seemed more than when I hired just regular guys that weren’t my sons. I said, “Yes, and my sons are all making more than me,” but I was being accused by their wives of taking advantage of them. This is the kind of thing you don’t want to have happen. As soon as those wives left, there was never a problem again.
Gioia: Your children have had musical careers . . .
Dave: Am I in dangerous territory?
Iola: What is it?
Dave: Am I in dangerous territory saying this?
Iola: No, no. It’s all right. But the thrust of the question was the dynamics within the group itself. My observation was that off the stand, it was father-sons and on the stand it seemed to me like it was with any other group, where the musical standards were that you had to live up to a certain standard. It was – that was business. That was my observation.
Gioia: I give you credit, because I know in my own situation, trying to – when I’ve had opportunities to do things in a commercial setting with members of the family, I just shy away from it. I don’t want to complicate the family relationship. But you seem to do it. Your children have really flourished as musicians. Was that encouraged from an early age? Did you know at a very early age that your children were going to be musicians? Or was it something that you nurtured, or really came from them?
Dave: I think it came from them. I’d be rehearsing, say, at home with Gerry Mulligan and Jack Six. The kids would come home from school and go right to the rehearsal and sit there quietly. My son Danny eventually studied with my drummer. He’d been brought up watching Joe Morello. Joe even left his drum set for Danny [ ]. Michael loved – who’s stopped playing – he and Paul Desmond were so close. He loved Paul’s playing and loved to be with Uncle Paul. The kids all called him Uncle Paul. They thought he was my brother, for years. Very close. Eugene Wright – did Eugene leave a bass in our house? Where did that bass come from?
Iola: There was a small bass at our house, but I don’t know whose it was. Maybe it was Eugene’s.
Dave: Chris would come home from school when he was a little kid, and he’d go lie down under the piano where I was playing, where the bass was stored, so it wouldn’t be kicked when you walked through the living room. You don’t want to kick and knock the bass over. So if it’s under the piano – he’d be under the piano with the bass and be fingering the bass at my rehearsals. One day, we were doing a recording at our house for a piece called Don’t Spindle, Mutilate . . .
Gloyd: Don’t Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate.
Dave: You remember that recording?
Iola: Yeah, for the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
Dave: There was a tough piece in a screwy time signature that whoever was on bass with my group at the time couldn’t get into it. He said, “Why don’t you have Chris play it?” You remember? So Chris came out, sight-read it on electric bass, and cut it perfectly. Danny was on cymbals. He was ten years old. So even hanging out at rehearsals, here’s a record session where the kids did something constructive.
Iola: I remember one time when Gerry Mulligan was at our house. The kids came home from school. I guess – I don’t know whether you invited them or what, but anyway, they – Chris and Dan started playing with you and Gerry. I remember when Gerry was packing up to go home, he said, “Boy, have you got it made. You have an in-house rhythm section.”
Gioia: Let me ask you about Gerry Mulligan and then we will take a break. Tell me about that collaboration. How did you approach that? Would you approach playing with Gerry the same way you would with Paul? How did that come about? There was a lengthy period there where you often collaborated with Gerry.
Dave: Yeah, and Paul often played with Gerry.
Gioia: That’s right as well, yes.
Dave: He [Mulligan] was a musician that couldn’t resist playing when he was around. He just had to sit in, and nobody would say, “Don’t sit in” to him, because it always seemed to add something that just propelled whatever group he sat in with. I remember at the Newport Jazz Festival George Wein saying, “That Gerry. He’s all over the place, sitting in with everybody.” Maybe some people didn’t like it, but I liked it. We first got to know each other in that period where I brought him to Fantasy. Then we often did concerts where his group would play and then my group, or my group and then his group, depending on the situation. [ ] in Europe with both groups. Russell, would you remember the years?
Gloyd: It was in the ’90s.
Iola: Late ’90s.
Dave: We toured together all over Europe. He had a very strong group.
Gloyd: Ted Rosenthal was his pianist.
Dave: Ted and – the drummer? [Ron Vincent]
Gloyd: I can’t think of his . . .
Iola: I don’t remember.
Dave: They both married Mills [College] girls. You remember?
Iola: I had forgotten about that. Jerry had substituted for Paul a few times when Paul was unable to play. There just always was an easy musical relationship. You can tell him the story about how George Wein induced you to go Mexico. That’s really how it began.
Dave: George had a festival in Mexico.
Gloyd: 1968, for the Olympics.
Iola: The Olympic year.
Dave: I had just broken up the quartet. He called me, and he said, “Can you come and play?” I said, “I don’t have a group, George. I just disbanded my quartet.” “Just come and play.” I said, “I can’t do that.” He said, “I’ve got a lot of groups down there.” He named all the groups. A big festival. “There’s all these different rhythm sections. You could play with them. And I’ve got Gerry Mulligan. Would you play with Gerry?” I said, “Yeah, but I’m not playing with an unknown group and an unknown rhythm section where I’ve been so big, in Mexico. I think it would be terrible to come down there and not have a real firm group instead of a pick-up group.” So I told him I didn’t want to do it. He said, “Look. You’ve got Gerry. You know Gerry. All you need is a bass and a drummer.” I said, “I just used a wonderful bass,” because I was doing The Light in the Wilderness, and the symphony orchestra called a surprise concert, and I had hired their first-chair classical bassist. It’s the day of the concert, and I get all this. So I said to the drummer, who I also – because I didn’t have a group – was highly recommended to me – I said, “Who do you know that can sight-read this without rehearsal and can improvise too?” He said, “Jack Six.” So I called Jack to mind. In my mind, I thought he’d be the guy I could take to Mexico, but I need a drummer. I didn’t want to take a strange drummer. So I told George Wein, “I’ve got to find a drummer, but I just don’t want a great drummer. I want a great man.” He said, “They’re out there. You’ll find somebody.” In a half hour [ ] his wife called and said, “Dave, I’ve got a great drummer that’s a great man. His name is Alan Dawson. You get him. You’ll have what you want.” So I called him. “Come to Wilton and rehearse,” and Jack Six to come to Wilton. I started playing one tune. They played it through. Jack put his bass down. Alan stood up. They came close to each other and embraced, without saying a word. I said, man, I’ve got the great drummers and the great bass players.
Gloyd: You’re also being a bit modest about why George Wein was so insistent.
Dave: I hate to tell you this, but it’s true. George said, “If you don’t come, all of your friends down here are going to lose their jobs, because the festival won’t go on unless you’re there.” So that really put some pressure on me to get down there. For some reason we were very big in Mexico.
Gloyd: You had just gone there the year before, and that’s where you did the Bravo Brubeck. You used Mexican musicians.
Iola: Yes. He’d been there before. I think the spillover from California, too, that the relationship with Mexico – there’s always been a big following.
Gioia: That’s right. A lot of people come across that border into California for a year, go back.
Dave: We were playing in the big park. When you go to Mexico, you play in Bayes Artes, downtown, and it costs a lot. The next day, you’re in the park. It’s usually a Sunday afternoon, and it’s almost free. I think we added it up that it was 52 cents for a ticket. Maybe six to ten thousand people. We played there. How did I get the Mexican musicians?
Gloyd: That was the year before.
Gioia: Dave, I want to return to the theme of you being a real ambassador during your career. You were part of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit, and you contributed to creating some lasting goodwill on that occasion. Could you tell me what your recollections are?
Dave: With Gorbachev and Reagan. I had a few things come to mind: a room where Garbechev had just made life a lot easier for poets and musicians or political people that had been sent to Siberia. Sitting next to Iola was a general in the Russian Army. Here these people – I wish I could remember the scientist’s name. Or the wife. He was such an important scientist, but he’d been ostracized.
Gioia: Andrei Sakharov.
Dave: Anyway, there’s starting to be a feeling of . . .
Iola: This was the glasnost period.
Dave: . . . glasnost, and yet the United States, I’ve heard, had a list of people that they would send, and I was on the top of the list. They had a list in Russia of people they would accept, and I was on the top of the list. So it was natural that I would go.
Iola: Part of that, Dave – excuse me – was also because you’d been there the year before on a cultural exchange. So the Russian people really knew who he was. Then Nancy Reagan was the one, I think, who made a decision that for the state dinner, they would invite you to go.
Dave: In this room where we were meeting, floor to ceiling thick curtains were on every window. There was no air in there to speak of, and how many hundred people?
Iola: There was a lot crowded into one room, and it was very hot, because it was in May and it was not an air-conditioned room. But obviously there were reasons for keeping that so curtained.
Dave: It was surrounded by apartment houses and a lot of sentries and everybody watching everything, but you still felt that there could be sniper, maybe up, and that’s why they had sealed this room off. So we’re going to play in this room. You just feel a little nervous tension. When we started playing – you wouldn’t think this is important, but I called a tune that had a lot of rhythm and a good strong beat. The unifying thing was the jazz beat. You could see enemies out there all going like this. This was the beginning of people responding. I’ve had this happen a couple times in my life, where it was very important that the people were responding with their foot-tapping. You wouldn’t think that’s important. The first time was at an Army camp in Los Angeles where almost everyone in a certain ward was a catatonic. They had not responded in any way. Sometimes they’d sit, for sure all day, or maybe through the night. They never look at anybody. They never show any expression. We were asked to play, and pretty quick the feet started tapping, and the doctors came to me and said, “This is the first response I’ve ever seen.” Pretty quick a guy jumped up and grabbed a trumpet from one of the musicians and started playing what you’d have to call free jazz, because he was not a trumpet player. But it was making some kind of sense. Those psychiatrics doctors just said, this is [ ]. We’re going to play the same tape tomorrow. With us there that day – help, Iola.
Iola: Gerald Herd and Aldus Huxley.
Dave: Herd and Huxley. Huxley’s wife. Some other very – who wrote, I Am a Camera?
Gioia: Christopher Isherwood.
Dave: Thank you. So you see, this is the group that’s there. They said, tomorrow, we’re going to play this same tape with these same catatonics. Not a response. Not a foot movement. Now isn’t that strange? The union had allowed these musicians to come and play. It was called Sawtell. That was the name of that place. No response. But the head of the union came and said, “This is so important, I’m going to ask for volunteers to come out and play one day a week and see if we can get a response from these people. Then I went to a different department, and I played. It was outdoor in the courtyard. A guy jumped up on the stand and started playing piano like Teddy Wilson. I was amazed with this guy who was so unwell in so many ways could play complicated jazz. Then again, you think, does he have a chance? Is there a piano where he can go and use it? There’s so much can be done. There was some follow-up there. I don’t know how many years it would have gone on, whether there was follow-up. But people realized that live music, not recorded music – that was enough. That’s what they wanted to find out. It took live musicians to get this response, this one on one situation.
Iola: Then in Russia it was funny to see, around the room, because, as Dave said, it was very, very edgy. People were kind of like this. I’m sure the way the people were seated – like I was between two Russians who didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Russian, but the music did loosen everybody up.
Gioia: Universal language.
Iola: We had responded.
Dave: Then it came time for me play a duet with Eugene Wright, who wasn’t in my group [at that time]. I had just said, “Eugene, you have to go to Russia. All the things you’ve done for me, all the things you’ve been through in situations where it was not easy, I want you to go to Russia.” He wasn’t on the stage, but he had to come in through a door that was over the first table. Who’s at the first table? Gorbechev. And Reagan is on the other side, at the first table. Gorbechev didn’t know there’s going to be a giant American with a bass over his head squeezing by him. As he looked up, he saw this bass and this huge man, AfricanAmerican. His mouth dropped open. I wondered how many guards wondered, what is this? Gene went up, we played a duet, and Gorbechev loved it. Afterwards, through his interpreter, he said, “[ ] when you two played together.” He said, “Would you sign . . .” – his interpreter. The guy with the high forehead, that you always see with Gorbechev – “Would you sign your autograph for me.” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Wouldn’t this be the time I don’t have anything for you to sign. Here, sign this.” I looked at it. It was his pass to the Kremlin. I said, “You don’t want me to sign that.” “I don’t need that pass anymore. Sign it please.” But this thing about the beat – I hate to tell you something that’s so important to me – Russell. Come here a second. I need your help. And Chris, you could come. [interview interrupted by phone call] Who was in government that was important? Iola: Shultz.
Dave: What’s his first . . .? – George.
Iola: George Shultz. Dave: Yeah. Well, I can tell you. Close the door.
Iola: The next day, we were going to the ballet.
Dave: Iola was in line to go to the ballet. I had to do interviews where there was just every – ABC, NBC, Fox – just lines of guys interviewing you from a balcony over Red Square. So I was stuck there. I said, “I won’t be able to get into the ballet. Look at that line.” “We’ll get you in.” So I’m the only guy that gets past the line. I’m in there in an empty lobby. Everybody else is outside. Pretty quick, a phalanx of guards come in. In this part of the phalanx is George Shultz. I’m shoved to the back end of that lobby. George went through the phalanx and came right over to me. He said, “Dave, you saved the meeting – the summit.” Iola: “You saved the summit.” He said, “There was so much tension, but after last night, everything is so much more relaxed.”
Dave: I hate not to tell you this, and I’d hate to see it in print and people think, what an ego. But this is what I’m talking about.
Gioia: Sure, no. It’s an important story.
Dave: It is.
Gioia: Let me ask about other political situations you’ve been involved in. You’ve been involved playing at the White House or presidential events I think going back to the Kennedy administration.
Gioia: Is that correct?
Dave: That’s right. Gioia: How do you approach that? How do you play at the White House? Do you play a song? Do you play a set? How do you adapt to that?
Dave: A little background to that: Pierre Salinger, whether you know it or not, could have had a career as a classical pianist. He used to come into the Geary Cellar in San Francisco when he was a writer for the [San Francisco] Chronicle. Didn’t he go with one of the girls downstairs?
Iola: Yeah. Denise McCluggage.
Dave: Do you know who Denise McClugagge is?
Dave: She’s the first top great woman race driver. She’s a Mills graduate. She was living [ ] little house downstairs on 18th Street. Pierre would know me. Returning to George Shultz at the Bolshoi.
Dave: Tell them what he said.
Gloyd: This was the day after the summit. After the night of the summit we went from [?] to the Rossiya Hotel, because all the networks had set up. The balcony of the Rossiya overlooks Red Square and St. Basel’s. So it’s “the shot,” to do a live CNN. As Dave came through the corridor on the second floor, every single news organization in the world was set up there. They all came up and applauded Dave, because they’d all seen it. Who was the black anchor for CNN? Bernard . . . [Shaw]. Anyway, he does the interview with Dave, finishes it up. He turns to Dave and he says, “Dave, I have to tell you something. Listening to you play Take the ‘A’ Train made me proud to be an American.” He said, “We all were just so emotional at what was taking place.” The next day, the Bolshoi. It was an all-star gala thing. We were ready to go in, and Shultz comes up. He’s all through the security. He sees Dave. He goes to Dave, through the security line, embraces him, and says, “Dave, you made the summit. Nothing was happening until last night, when everybody looked around and saw that they appreciated the same music.” So that was a pretty emotional evening.
Dave: Cultural exchange works.
Gioia: You were talking about Pierre Salinger.
Thursday afternoon these – pages were a lot of them – . . .
Dave: . . . interns were invited to the White House. They would not know why they were coming, except it was Kennedy’s afternoon to entertain them. Word got out that I was going to be the entertainment. The lawn at the White House was flooded, and they could not keep that date there, so they moved us to the Washington monument. I don’t remember whether Jack Kennedy came or not.
Iola: I don’t think he did.
Dave: Bobby was supposed to have been there.
Iola: I think there was talk. If he came, he came and went without our knowing it.
Dave: Security and all that has changed now. They said, “Would you play a song for Tony Bennett to sing?” I said, “Sure. What’s he want to sing?” Tony, without rehearsals - was it Night and Day?
Iola: That Old Black Magic.
Dave: That Old Black Magic. It came off just great. It’s on one of my records with different artists. It sounds like we knew what each other was doing. There were thousands and thousands at that, out in the open air. Then the next year – who’d we go for?
Iola: King Hussein.
Dave: King Hussein had requested this.
Iola: I guess King Hussein was a real jazz fan. So that was the first [ ] group that performed at a state dinner function. They had performed for dances and that sort of thing, but as the entertainer for a state function, it was the first time. From what we understand, it was King Hussein who requested it.
Gioia: I see. What’s the protocol for that? Do you play a whole set? Do you play just one or two numbers?
Dave: You play maybe three or four. The Ellington night, there’s so many jazz musicians that you just go up and play one tune. When I think of the Ellington night, I think of the night that I really liked Dick Nixon, who I hadn’t been a fan of. But he said – we’re at the dinner in a separate room. He gets up to make a speech of welcome. He said, “In this room there’s been welcome and entertainment for kings and queens and leaders of the world, but tonight we entertain our first Duke.” Then he said, “It’s come full circle. Duke’s father was the head” – did he call him . . .
Dave: “. . . butler in this room. Tonight we’re entertaining and honoring his son.” Isn’t that great? It was so wonderful. Iola was sitting with Mercer [Ellington] in a room full of musicians and great statesmen. I don’t know why I got on that, but I was thinking of how great that was, Duke being raised in Washington.
Gioia: That’s right. His father catered meals at the White House.
Dave: Yeah, and wasn’t it wonderful of Nixon to bring that . . .
Dave: . . . full circle. Then [Gerald] Ford. He had a train going across the country. We went to the station.
Iola: This was ’76, the Freedom Train.
Dave: Who else?
Gioia: There was a [Jimmy] Carter event. Were you at the Carter jazz . . .?
Iola: Yeah, in the Rose Garden, Carter.
Dave: That’s the night I played with Lionel [Hampton], wasn’t it? Lionel had told us what he’s going to play. He didn’t play one thing that he told us. That great bass player . . .
Iola: Ron Carter.
Dave: Ron said, “What the heck’s he playing? I don’t know this song.”
Iola: That’s right. He played a tune that neither of you had ever played.
Dave: Neither of us knew.
Gioia: If you and Ron don’t know it, it’s got to be a pretty obscure song.
Dave: We got through it.
Gioia: Let me ask about another world figure: Pope John Paul II. You performed Upon this Rock for his visit to San Francisco. You’ve also written a number of other widely performed liturgical works. Can you talk about that aspect of your career?
Dave: So many times, like today, I’ll get a phone call for something very important to do. Many times I can’t do it or wouldn’t think it’s appropriate. I can tell you a story about Johnson, President Johnson. I’m in my tomato garden at home, and I am called to come to the phone, saying, “It’s the White House.” I go to the phone. They say, “Dave, we need you to come to . . .”
Dave: “. . . Thailand. Can you get on the next plane and come?”
Gioia: The King of Thailand is a big jazz fan.
Dave: He had requested us. I said, “Why? Why do I have to come?” “We’re in big trouble. The President, when he’s seated, is taller than the King is standing. This is causing such tremendous problems. On top of it, the President has crossed his legs and pointed his shoe at the President” [sic: the King].
Iola: The bottom of his shoe.
Dave: The bottom of – “We are in big trouble, but we think because the King likes you so much, that if you came and played, it might save the situation.” So I said, “I can’t go. I have other concerts that I have to do during this period.” “Can you think of somebody else that the King would like?” I said, “How about Stan Getz?” “Oh, he’d like that.” I guess I’m talking to his social person.
Iola: Social secretary.
Dave: So, great. Send Stan. Stan goes all the way there. Didn’t like something that somebody said. Turns around and comes back. Then is talked into going back, and gets on the next plane and goes back. He finally saved the situation. Now we have a friend that’s in Thailand for the King, to teach his kids.
Iola: Life is funny, the circles, because one of the Mills girls . . .
Dave: That lived downstairs.
Iola: . . . that lived on 18th Street in San Francisco ended up being the music teacher for the King of Thailand’s children.
Dave: She goes back every year. She might be there now.
Iola: Isn’t that crazy?
Dave: It’s like The King and I.
Gioia: That’s funny. I’ve been considering trying to get an interview with the King of Thailand, because I hear he’s a great jazz fan. So I’ve sent these e-mails to the consulate and the ambassador. I tell my wife, “If someone calls and says they’re the King of Thailand on the phone, don’t hang up. It’s not a practical joke.” He hasn’t phoned me back. I’m still hopeful to get an interview at some point.
Dave: I kind of got off the track.
Gioia: That is an interesting story. By all means. We’re moving on. We’re doing world figures now. We’re going to do Pope John Paul II and you writing a work for his visit to San Francisco.
Dave: I get a call when I’m in Los Angeles. They call Russell. Russell comes in my room, and said, “The Pope is coming to San Francisco – the diocese in San Francisco. He needs you to write nine minutes for his entrance into Candlestick Park. He will in the Pope mobile coming in and circle the park. We don’t have any music ready for that. Could you write something?” I said, “Russell, what do they want me to write?” He said, “They’ve given me one sentence: ‘upon this rock, I will build my church, and the jaws of Hell cannot [ ]’.” I said, “Nine minutes on that? Turn it down.” So he calls back. “Mr. Brubeck thinks he cannot write nine minutes of music for the Pope on that one sentence.” So I go to bed – and this often happens to me. I will dream an answer, because I’m so pent up about this assignment. Bach would write a fugue and could use the words over and over again. I said, “Ask them if they could give me one more sentence? That would help give me more to work with.” So he called back. Everything was going fine. They’ll give me “what is loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” which is . . .
Gioia: It’s part of the same gospel.
Dave: It’s the next sentence. “Which is bound on earth will be bound in heaven.” So I got that sentence, and I started that chorale. I would meet the organist that was the choir director for that – is it called Glass Cathedral, that new cathedral in San Francisco? Not Glass. But it’s beautiful.
Gioia: The Grace Cathedral.
Dave: Not the Grace. It’s a new one.
Iola: Because Grace is Episcopal.
Dave: It’s a Catholic.
Gioia: You’re right. It’s not.
Dave: So we’re on the way to Japan or Australia, and I said, “If I show the director of the choir, and he’s the person that’s going to be working with this – have him come to the airport in San Francisco and meet us. We’ll go to some room, and I’ll show him the music that I’ve started.” So he meets us there, and I said, “I think I’ve found the solution. I think I’ve written a fugue.” He said, “Let me see it.” He looks at it and sings perfectly the subject, then the counter-subject, then the stretto. “What do you mean, you think you’ve written a fugue? This is a fugue!”, which was good news to hear. So while we’re gone, the bishop, Quinn, is also an organist. He showed the bishop what I’d written. He said, “This is good music, but we’ve had two articles against using Dave, a jazz musician, to perform for the Pope,” very negative articles in both papers. But he said, “I can defend this music. I’m a musician.” So we get to the part – now I’ve got the quartet. Russell has had one rehearsal with the choir and the musicians. I wrote it for 21 brass and percussion, because outdoors, in a baseball diamond – the altar is on second base, put up like a jigsaw puzzle, just perfectly, very expensive, because they’ve got to put it up and take it down, because there’s a ball game there that night. Can you imagine? It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I forget exactly. So [ ] The bishop said, “Dave, don’t use the quartet. The press will kill you. They’ll call it a jazz mass. You’ve written” – he said, “I love your quartet, but I know these guys. Just do the chorale and fugue.” So I brought the group. They were there. They didn’t play a note. You know, he was right, because it’s the narrowness of people that write about things like this to not know that this is America’s music, as Billy – Dr. Billy . . .
Dave: Taylor has said, “This is America’s classical music.” This we got to realize, that it’s the basic music of every Broadway show you go to, of rock, of movies – especially in a chase scene. It’s always jazz. Our classical composers that are world-wide known – and this is what Darius Milhaud told me – if you want to express, you have to use the jazz idiom, just as Bartok used the Hungarian folk music, and I’ve used French music, and Bach – Bach used drinking songs. O Sacred Head Now Wounded is a drinking song. Why don’t people realize that almost from the beginning of classical music, they were using folk music and comedy songs. Beethoven, I think, used dance songs that were popular at the time as a point of departure. Over and over. That’s why America has to realize that jazz is the basis of our music, and what’s going to live in our music – like Bernstein, Copland, Gershwin, and Charles Ives have used the jazz idiom. That’s what America should realize. That’s what our teachers, our government, should be thankful that we have such great music that says in so many words “freedom” to the whole world. This is the expression of freedom, which is the expression of the United States.
Gioia: Dave, I think I interviewed you back in 1988. At that time I had found an interview you had given in the 1950s in which you had told an interviewer that you would like to spend more time doing classical composition. I mentioned that to you in this 1988 interview, and you said, “I still feel the same way today. I wish I was spending more time doing classical composition.” It seems to me, though, that you have – in the last 20 years, you’ve devoted increasing amounts of time to these compositions. Is there a lot of your music, or compositions that have not been recorded? What is there out there?
Dave: The piece that I wrote for the Pope hasn’t been recorded – Upon this Rock – hasn’t been recorded, and I love that piece. It’s a good fugue. It is well-written, as far as I’m concerned. It should have been recorded. But it looks like it will. It’s going to be sung at the Catholic . . .
Iola: Notre Dame.
Dave: Notre Dame. Maybe someone will record it there. But I know who will record it, will be the Pacific Mozart Chorale, but they’ll record it probably without orchestra – do it a cappella. It would be great if they could record it with an orchestra, but that costs a lot of money.
Gioia: How many works of yours are there that haven’t been recorded? A small number? A large number? What is there in your archives that we haven’t heard?
Dave: Have we recorded Chief Seattle?
Iola: Not a commercial recording.
Dave: Wonderful piece. Chief Seattle spoke to the President of the United States, to the Great Father in Washington. “How can you buy or sell the sky?” Because Washington wanted his land, all of Chief Seattle’s land. There was no way he could stop that from happening. But the speech is one of the greatest speeches on ecology. “Will you teach your children what we have taught our children if I sell you our land? Will you respect the trees, the water, the air, the animals, the fish?” Washington agreed to all of this. Put him on an island off of Seattle, where he could never return to Seattle, where he died. I’ve been to his grave there, with Iola. It was a little frightening to play for the Suquamish tribe Chief Seattle’s speech, because they do not like people to take their music or their texts. So at the first performance, a young chief came and read – what did he read? Part of Chief Seattle? He spoke himself.
Iola: He gave the prayer to the four winds, and there was a blessing of the concert.
Dave: Then he said, “I have to be gone tomorrow,” because there was a performance the next day, “But I’ll be back.” So he disappeared the next day and came back with an eagle feather that you could smell the smoke where it had been blessed. He gave that to me and said I must wave it when I go to the next world. [ ]
Iola: A great-great-great granddaughter of Chief Seattle came to the concert. They were thrilled with it.
Dave: It was just the opposite. I was afraid to play my music, do this thing that Iola and I had written. Then we did it live with . . .
Iola: Russell Means.
Dave: . . . Russell Means, who’s this magnificent man. He was in something you would think of as an American Indian costume, but it wasn’t. He just had the feathers.
Iola: His hair was braided.
Dave: Braided. He read this with such passion. Do you know much about him?
Gioia: Just a little.
Dave: Because he’s such a powerful force.
Iola: He was the head of the AIM, the American Indian Movement. Remember that? They were pretty radical there for a while. Then I think he has done some acting in Hollywood. He is a man of great presence and a very intense, fierce [inaudible].
Dave: These are the kind of things that aren’t recorded. The Praise of Mary Canticles haven’t been recorded. These are 35-, 40 minute . . .
Gioia: These are major compositions of yours that most people haven’t had a chance to hear.
Dave: Then this bunch of new things will be recorded.
Gioia: The Cannery Row work that you performed at Monterey – has that been recorded?
Gioia: That’s another one that I’ve read reviews of, but haven’t had a chance to hear the music. A lot of people would like to hear this.
Dave: It could be . . .
Iola: The live performance was recorded, and actually, it’s well enough recorded . . .
Gioia: It could be commercially released.
Dave: I’d love to see that. Clint Eastwood had cameras there. He’s doing a documentary on me.
Gioia: My next question was going to be to ask you about that.
Dave: I keep saying, “Are you going to use Cannery Row?” – through the people in his staff – “Are you going to use Cannery Row in the documentary?” They said, “We’ll use it as bookends.” I said, “It’s such a good first and only performance, that I would very much like you to do the whole thing.”
Gioia: That could be an extra feature on the DVD. Now that they have DVDs, they have an extra feature. They could just have the whole performance there.
Dave: You just said the answer.
Gioia: Oh, Is that so? Great minds think alike.
Dave: That’s how they answered me. What’d they call it? A bonus.
Gioia: A bonus feature. That would be great.
Dave: “We’ll put it on the end.” They said, “If it’s so important to you, we’d like you to know that we’ve thought of a way. We’ll put it as a complete piece as a bonus.” I don’t know how that works. Maybe you do.
Gioia: That’ll be great. That will get great visibility. A lot of people will see it.
Dave: It will? I’m so anxious to see that.
Gioia: Just a couple more questions. I’d like to ask you about your marriage. You’ve had – I think you’re going to celebrate your 65th anniversary this year. Is that correct? Is that right?
Dave: Isn’t it more?
Iola: It may seem like it.
Dave: I think it’s 66 coming up.
Gioia: I just think that’s wonderful. In so many celebrities and musicians, they’re unable to have successful marriages. To see you with such a long, successful marriage and your kids to turn out well. How [ ]? What’s the secret to that success? That’s a great success in its own right, over and above the music.
Dave: The secret to everything is one word – love. If you haven’t got that, you’re in trouble. If you have it, you have a chance to be happy. There’s always unhappiness and suffering in this life, but this is what will help you through it all. We’ve had that as the saving of our situation. Ask my wife.
Gioia: Iola, do you have any comments on that?
Iola: Within the family, it has its ups and downs. There’s strains and everything. But Dave is right, underneath there is something that binds you all together. You think of the other person, whether it’s a child or your husband or – but it is as important to you as your own life. If you have those priorities all straight, I think that things work themselves out, if you’re patient and have time and really want them to be resolved. I often quote Dave, because he says, “In music there is no mistake, as long as you can make the resolution.” So that’s kind of the way with life, right? It isn’t a mistake if there is a resolution to whatever the problem is.
Gioia: I give both of you tremendous credit. I tell you, it’s very inspirational to see. Most people with the kind of fame and career that you’ve had, and to have a stable marriage and the kids turn out the way they have – I give you tremendous credit for that.
Dave: Thank you.
Gioia: I’ve got one last question. The NEA has asked us to do this. They want the people that have been named NEA Masters to give some comments on what it means to them to have been part of the NEA Master program. So any thoughts or observations you have on that would be greatly appreciated.
Dave: Joining a group of people that you really respect and honor, then it’s an honor if you’re included in that. That’s the way I feel, that we’ve been very fortunate to be included.
Iola: And I think that it has brought to the general public an awareness of the value of the jazz legends, like they did in Washington, D.C., last spring – this spring, wasn’t it? – that, just as in Japan, they have national treasures, that these are our national treasures, that this is our native music. I think that bringing that to the general public – I think the average person now, when they use the term “jazz,” have no idea what they’re talking about, because when you find out, “Oh, you love jazz? Who are some of your favorite players?”, and they all name people that you wouldn’t dream of putting under the classification of jazz. So, I think that’s helped. Then, another area that it’s helped – it has helped people who are trying to start or have a jazz series in a city. I know that it has worked in Arizona. They brought you and the sons in to open a jazz series. They’re selling subscriptions. That brought enough people that it sustained the subscription. How they did this was calling upon the National Endowment for this backup that is being offered. I’m sure that that’s happened over and over again, where people who want to sponsor [ ] provide seed money that helps them get started and bring people in, so that they can afford to bring a headliner, and then some of the others they can afford to have on the series. So I think what your brother [Dana Gioia] has done at the National Endowment is giving jazz more recognition than jazz has ever had from any official source.
Gioia: The Pulitzer Prize in music, for many years they would never give it to a jazz musician, which is a shame when you think of all the great jazz music, and every year they give a Pulitzer Prize in composition. For so many years no jazz musician ever got that. I know Dana wants to use the NEA Jazz Masters to have that kind of – something equivalent to what a Pulitzer Prize in jazz would be. Dave and Iola, I want to thank you. We ran long both days. We told you it would be three hours a day. We did more than four yesterday. We’ve been doing about four today, too. So, thank you very much.
Dave: It’s been very pleasant, and I thank you.
(transcribed and edited by Barry Kernfeld)