March 19, 2018
Personnel: Chris Brubeck (bass, bass trombone)
Dan Brubeck (drums)
Mike DeMicco (guitar)
Chuck Lamb (piano)
The Brubeck Brothers Quartet's newest CD, TimeLine, celebrates the 60th anniversary of Dave Brubeck's historic 1958 State Department Tour. This new recording includes freshly re-arranged tunes written by Dave inspired by his 1958 tour as well as compelling new originals by Chris Brubeck, Mike DeMicco and Chuck Lamb.
01. Blue Rondo a la Turk (7:29) - Dave Brubeck
02. Far More Blue (6:56) - Dave Brubeck
03. Easy As You Go (6:11) - Dave Brubeck
04. Since Love Had Its Way (5:43) - Dave Brubeck
05. Boundward Home (6:30) - Chuck Lamb
06. Tritonis (7:43) - Dave Brubeck
07. The Golden Horn (4:36) - Dave Brubeck
08. 3 Wise Men (6:29) - Chris Brubeck
09. North Coast (4:35) - Mike DeMicco
10. Prime Directive (7:00) - Chuck Lamb
11. Thank You (Dziekuje) (6:50) - Dave Brubeck
2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the Dave Brubeck Quartet's historic State Department Tour as official Jazz Ambassadors for America. We wanted to celebrate that achievement and the impact that 80-concert Eurasian tour had on Dave’s music, American culture, the jazz world and our family. That 1958 tour inspired some of Dave’s most memorable tunes and was an important part of our family history. There is a Timeline between my family’s personal memories and our musical evolution through the years.
As Dave & Iola Brubeck headed to the airport for a marathon 3-month tour through 14 countries, Dan, our sister Cathy and I were small children (ages 2, 4 & 5). Too young to make the trip, we said our sad goodbyes to our parents. Joining them were our honorary "Uncles" Paul Desmond, Joe Morello, and the newest member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Eugene Wright. Our older brothers Darius (10) and Michael (8) were lucky enough to accompany this band of musicians for much of this huge trans-Atlantic adventure.
The year was 1958, and The Cold War was on. Only 13 years earlier during WWII, our father had been deployed in Europe with General Patton's army. That war over, the US State Department and the Russians were now engaged in "cultural" warfare. The Voice of America radio programs broadcast jazz to the hungry fans trapped on the other side of the Iron Curtain. With the idea of promoting democracy and building bridges to the artistic and intellectual communities of these occupied countries, a new strategy of presenting live concerts through a special program called "President Eisenhower's Special International Program for Cultural Presentations" was born. Jazz musicians and the "cool" cache they brought were one of its secret weapons. Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others were being exported to expand the popularity of America around the world. Our father used to say, "I preferred to think of music as an instrument of peace, rather than a Cold War weapon.” We thought it was important to salute the 60th anniversary of Dave’s involvement in this momentous cultural exchange and include on this CD several of his tunes inspired by this global campaign.
This tour was very significant for my father who, in 1946, studied with the French composer Darius Milhaud at Mills College in California. Milhaud told Dave that it was vital for musicians to travel, listen and absorb new musical ideas. After Milhaud visited Harlem in the 1920’s, he began integrating jazz into French classical music. Likewise, when Dave heard the wild beats of street musicians in Istanbul, he determined the time signature was in 9/8, wrote a melody that fit that rhythmic pattern, and borrowed the Rondo form from classical music. When he realized he was straying from jazz, he juxtaposed American blues to create his groundbreaking masterpiece — Blue Rondo a la Turk. This landmark tour, which had started in England, then went on to Sweden, Denmark, and West Germany, became more dangerous as they passed through East Berlin to Poland, and onward to Turkey, India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. As an old man, my father looked back and reflected on the Quartet's incorporation of the multi-cultural music they heard on that tour as one of the early efforts to fuse "world music" into jazz.
Dad was inspired to write Dziekuye, (Polish for "Thank You”) after visiting Chopin's house in Poland during the tour. We have re-arranged this haunting melody for this recording, playing it as a slow bossa nova in 5/4. The Golden Horn is not about Desmond's alto but refers to the peninsula in Turkey that reaches into the Bosphorus Sea. Some of Dave's great tunes emerged from the experiences of this tour, Since Love Had Its Way and Easy As You Go, both of which found their way into the musical our parents created called "The Real Ambassadors." This musical was written for Louis Armstrong, America's greatest cultural ambassador, and was later recorded with Louis and his band, Carmen McRae; Lambert, Hendricks and Ross; and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Our parents were deeply troubled by the plight of African American jazz musicians being exploited by the government to spread the promise of the American dream overseas only to come home to the cold reality of a segregated society. These themes, explored through song and story, were inspired by significant events that took place on this 1958 tour.
We put our own spin on some other tunes: Far More Blue which evolves from a slow 4/4 to a romp in 5/4; Tritonis, a later tune by Dave which Dan thought sounded exotic and would be a good fit for this collection. My tune, 3 Wise Men, inspires images of deserts and caravans. Chuck Lamb's uplifting composition, Prime Directive, refers to a the "Official Speak" State Department used when the DBQ was sent out to "conquer hearts and minds with Jazz." Chuck also contributed Boundward Home, conveying the spirit of adventure crossing the oceans. Mike DeMicco added a new straight—ahead tune, North Coast, which brings a good balance to the many unusual time signatures and exotic influences of the other tracks.