The legend Dave Brubeck

The legend Dave Brubeck

Last night, we went to a Dave Brubeck show in Memphis. Dave was playing with Bobby Militello (his usual saxophonist) and his sons Chris (bass) and Dan (drums), and it was FANTASTIC!!! Dave is nearly 88, but he plays like someone half his age. He’s just as sharp and technically precise as he ever was, and he has decades of seasoning that the rest of us can’t even dream of faking. He still loves what he does, and it’s obvious just watching him play. We should all be so lucky. He opened the set with “Memphis Blues.” He discussed the origins of the song, and then turned to the rest of quartet and said, “Give me a tango!” and the drum and bass laid down a beautiful, sensual tango rhythm. From this tango, they seamlessly launched into a classic blues. The bassist was just amazing. I absolutely adore it when someone who knows his way around a fretless electric. Sigh.

Before I was in my current program, I was working on a masters in musicology, so I always like a good discussion of music in its historical context. Brubeck talked about how jazz music is actually as much in the classical tradition as it is in the tradition of slave and African music because of the importance of improvisation. He’s a pretty big Bach fan (as am I), and mentioned that one of my favorite Bach chorales (O Sacred Head, Now Wounded) was actually a German drinking song. He said, “Bach knew that the church members would remember the tunes of popular songs, so he used them to write his music. Especially the drinking songs.” What a funny guy!

We also had a great dinner of Ethiopian food, which is a rare treat in the Freckles household. There are no Ethiopian restaurants for a 200 mile radius, and I do love all of those stewed veggies and the injera. Our hotel was also pretty decent, given that we scored it for a mere $40 (yay, Priceline!) and it was an extended stay place, so it had a kitchen. All in all, a successful trip.

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