Darius Brubeck, eldest son of Dave Brubeck whose classic album Time Out was released 60 years ago, was appearing in Limerick at the jazz festival this autumn pictured with his quartet: tenor saxophonist Dave O’Higgins, double bassist Matt Ridley and drummer Wesley Gibbens.
In the Dolans Warehouse pre-concert talk featuring Radio Kerry broadcaster, the distinguished Charles Mingus biographer and pianist Brian Priestley as interlocutor, Brubeck spoke of his journey into jazz and extensively about his father’s early life in music playing in such clubs as the Black Hawk in San Francisco, the city where Darius himself was born. He spoke of how he himself became a musician, moving to South Africa where he taught at tertiary level in the first initiative of its kind at the University of [now KwaZulu] Natal in Durban and where he introduced the first Jazz Studies degree in Africa and became the first director of the centre for Jazz and Popular Music in 1989.
The concert itself after a short break later began with ‘Blue Rondo à la Turk’. One enthusiastic fan towards the front asked Brubeck to play ‘Take Five’ but Brubeck benignly said that the concert would be over if the quartet did that and so then proceeded with the first of the two sets punctuated by a break. ‘The Duke’ was a big highlight from the repertoire of his father overall and the concert also included unreleased material of Brubeck’s own compositions from not only some of his earlier work but also the upcoming Live in Poland. As a child Brubeck played in Poland with his father and returned to make this album last year in Poznań, the city where the legendary Krzysztof Trzciński better known as Komeda, and future creator of the classic Astigmatic, was born. Brubeck spoke of how his father’s concert in Poland was an inspiration to the future Solidarity movement of the 1980s given that a poster for a Brubeck concert was exhibited in the Solidarity museum relating to these Cold War years. Brubeck explained how his father’s quartet had travelled to eastern Europe as part of the initiative of the State Department, an institution “not what it is today,” he quipped to no little amusement.
The Limerick audience responded very well and exuberantly at the end to the group and were cheered by their response much earlier on to know that UK jazz icon of Irish descent O’Hig had proudly showed his Irish passport at Shannon airport on arrival: this was the quartet’s first appearance in Limerick. Bearded drummer Wesley Gibbens, who is from South Africa and now part of the London scene, Brubeck told us, was a seriously impressive part of the group and later when the quartet encored to the 7/4 ‘Unsquare Dance’ reproduced the rim wizardry that Joe Morello captured back in the day – the audience beating out the rhythms for fun and making a joyful noise. SG
photo: Salvatore Conte