Brubeck by
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I love live theatre and am happy to say I’ve been to many memorable stage performances over the years,  so many in fact that I’ll save them for another story.

But I remember other memorable performances at festivals and stadiums,  and at cabarets and concert halls  – as a teenager hearing Ella Fitzgerald at the Danbury Fair;  and years later seeing Mick and the band at Yankee Stadium and at Madison Square Garden.  (See The Camper-Waitress Goes to the Fair and  Rolling Stoned at the Garden)

And Rosemary Clooney at the Blue Note and wherever else we could catch her;   Frank Sinatra celebrating his 70th birthday at Giant Stadium;   the great stride pianist Judy Carmichael at Hanratty’s;   master guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli at the 92nd St Y;   Cyndi Lauper singing the Blues at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury;  my gal Bonnie Raitt at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre;  Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga together at Tanglewood;  and altho we’re not opera buffs,  we‘ve seen memorable productions of Carmen at the Met,  at Glimmerglass,  and even at La Scala!   And wonderful modern dance –  Pilobolus and Ballet Hispanica at the Joyce;  Paul Taylor’s company at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington;   and Alvin Ailey’s at City Center.   (See Revelations)

Yet the most memorable performance I’ve seen may have been Dave Brubeck on piano opening the Kent, CT jazz fest a few years before his death at age 92.   We waited for Time Out and not surprisingly he saved it for last.  And as the festival was held out-of-doors with no house for Brubeck to bring down,  it seemed when he hit that last note he brought down the summer sky and all the stars.

But thinking back,  I can remember another memorable performance 35 years earlier when we saw a young  Dave Brubeck jazzing it up on piano at a New York cabaret.   I don’t remember the venue but I can tell you the date as we’d been celebrating our anniversary,  and I remember we were both a bit tipsy when we got home.

Nine months later – almost to the day – our son was born,  and so I guess you can pin that memorable performance on Brubeck too.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Jazz great Dave Brubeck

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Dave Brubeck, Jazz
Characterizations: , moving, right on!, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Terrific tag line, Dana. But why didn’t you name your son Dave?

    I’ve also written about Time Out/Take Five and my love of Brubeck and. indeed, one of my other memorable concerts was a Brubeck Quartet one at the venerable Bushnell Hall in Hartford. My father took my brother and me when I was in junior high school and it was terrific — and well worth the drive from far off New Haven (like maybe forty miles away). Of course, I remember thinking then how old the musicians were (probably all in their early forties then).

  2. Marian says:

    Super story, Dana, and a nice recap of different performances with Brubeck as the highlight. He studied at my college (well before I was there), so there is an academic connection. I have seen his sons perform as well.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    You have recapped many memorable performances, but clearly none takes the cake for you like Brubeck, either the last one, or the one years earlier when Noah was conceived!

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    I loved the description of bringing down the summer sky, and the observation about the birth of your son. All the wonderful performances reminds me of how remarkably little live theatre or music I have seen in my life. And of course I deliberately eschewed Woodstock as too youth-culture and politically irrelevant. But I know Brubeck’s music and love that.

    • Why did you deliberately eschew theatre and music Khati?
      Nevertheless – now you can work on catching up!

      Funny about Woodstock, I didn’t go either.
      I wasn’t a flower child, and was already married and working at the time, but I do regret I wasn’t there. Didn’t Woody Allen say 75% of life is showing up!

      • Khati Hendry says:

        I wouldn’t say I deliberately eschewed theatre and music in general, but it wasn’t something we did much as a family, and it was expensive once I was at school or on my own. I didn’t eat at restaurants much either. Money was for travel or living expenses. And then I was deep into school, medical school, residency–and didn’t have time or have people who took me along. Have done more as I have gotten older and have more time and money. Woodstock was more a difference in world outlook–drugs and rock and roll were not as big for me as opposing the war or political change. Not sure I regret not being there even now–I did go to a couple of concerts that were too loud and too many people–but it was certainly a seminal event for many.

  5. Suzy says:

    Wow, Dana, you rattle off so many great performances in your second and third paragraphs, and I have seen many of them. But it sounds like Brubeck was the best of all for you. I have a story about him, only faintly remembered. A choral group that I was singing in performed with him in Sacramento some time in the ’80s. I’m pretty sure we sang “Take Five.” On the other hand, it might have been “To Hope!” because in my record collection I just found a copy of the album “To Hope!” autographed by Dave and also by Russell Gloyd, his producer and arranger. I do remember that my then-husband and I argued over who would get this album in the divorce. I won, although I have never listened to it. Wish I could post a picture of it here in the comments.

    • Thanx Suzy. Fun to hear you may have sung Take Five!
      It seems the lyrics use the phrase in the usual meaning “take a break”, but altho I’m not savvy about musicology I know one of Brubeck’s innovations was adding a 5th beat to the usual 4 beat to a measure signature – thus “taking 5.”

      Fighting over who keeps which albums is surely something that happens in divorces! I don’t remember doing that years ago, but do have some old vinyl albums labeled with my former married name!

  6. Fred Suffet says:

    Terrific story, Dana. You remember so many different performances that I’m dazzled. It seems our musical tastes overlap to a considerable degree, especially when it comes to jazz singers. There’s something I’d like to mention about the Brubeck quartet, and that’s his long-time alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. At a time when alto players, especially the younger ones, were mainly influenced by the powerful sound of Charlie Parker, Desmond was different. In a famous remark, he said that he wanted to sound like a dry martini. And if you can imagine such a thing, indeed he did. You can get a taste of it, not only from the records he made with Brubeck, but also from those he made under his own name. And speaking of a dry martini, it’s getting to be that time of day. Thanks again for the memory jog.

  7. Cyndi Lauper singing the blues! Frank Sinatra!! Your gal Bonnie Raitt!!! A lot of musical highlights in your memory bank. Thanks for the tour.

  8. Laurie Levy says:

    How lucky you are to have seen/heard so many great performances. I love the way you ended with the concert that inspired your son’s conception. You have a lot to thank Dave Brubeck for!

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