The Dave Brubeck Quartet
DAVE BRUBECK has been declared a “living legend” by the Library of Congress. Born into a musical family – his two older brothers were professional musicians – he first took piano lessons with his mother, a classical pianist. When his family moved to a cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierras, he stopped music lessons and began to work with his father as a cowboy. On weekends he played the piano with local dance bands. After graduating from College of the Pacific in 1942, he enlisted in the Army, and while serving in Europe led an integrated jazz GI jazz band. At the end of World War II, he studied composition at Mills College with French composer Darius Milhaud, who encouraged him to introduce jazz elements into his classical compositions.
This experimentation of mixed genres led to the formation of the Dave Brubeck Octet, which included Paul Desmond, Cal Tjader, and Bill Smith. On 1949 Brubeck formed an award-winning trio with Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty, and in 1951 established the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond. In 1954, Time ran a cover story about Brubeck’s remarkable ascendancy in the jazz world. In 1958, the Quartet performed in Europe for the first time and toured Poland and the Middle East for the U.S. State Department. This led to the introduction of music from other cultures into the Quartet’s repertoire. The Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded an experiment in time signatures – Time Out – in 1959. The album sold over a million copies, and Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” based on a Turkish folk rhythm, and Desmond’s “Take Five” appeared on jukeboxes throughout the world.
Throughout his career, Brubeck has continued to experiment with integrating jazz and classical music. In 1960 he composed Points on Jazz for the American Ballet Theatre, and in later decades composed for and performed with the Murray Louis Dance Co. The “classic” Dave Brubeck Quartet with Desmond, Eugene Wright, and Joe Morello was dissolved in 1967, and the first of Brubeck’s many oratorios, The Light in the Wilderness, was premiered in 1968.
Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan joined Brubeck in 1968, and they toured the world together. In the early ’70s Brubeck performed with three of his musical sons. His current group is Bobby Militello (saxes and flute), Randy Jones (drums), and Michael Moore (bass).
Brubeck has received many honors in the U.S. and abroad, including the Presidential Medal of the Arts, a “Jazz Master” award from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and special recognition be the governments of France, Italy, and Austria. In 2008, Condoleeza Rice presented him with the U.S. State Department’s Benjamin Franklin Award in recognition of his half-century role as musical ambassador.
British-born RANDY JONES has played with such jazz greats as Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Milt Jackson, Bill Watrous, and Harry James. He was invited to join the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1978 and has remained with them ever since.
Jones started work as a drummer at the age of 16, playing mostly rock and pop for TV and recording sessions. When the opportunity came to play jazz with the Maynard Ferguson Big Band, he jumped at the chance. During the six years he was with Ferguson’s band, he made numerous recordings and worked with such singing stars as Tony Bennett and Billy Eckstine.
Jones has recorded many albums with the Dave Brubeck. He has toured with the Quartet throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan, and has appeared with them on numerous TV shows in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. He is noted as a versatile drummer, capable of swinging a big band or dynamically weaving intricate patterns in the Quartet’s odd time signatures. An avid collector of classical recordings, his solos reflect that interest with an unusually strong sense of melodic form and compositional structure.
BOBBY MILITELLO (woodwinds) first caught Dave Brubeck’s ear at a jazz festival, when Militello stepped out in front of the Maynard Ferguson band and performed a dazzling flute solo. When there was an opening for a horn player in the Quartet, Brubeck invited Militello to audition. He arrived at the try-out already knowing most of the Quartet’s repertoire, and has been on the Brubeck team ever since.
Born in Buffalo in 1950, Robert Philip Militello toured with Maynard Ferguson from 1975 to 1979. After his move to Los Angeles in 1984, he became active in the studios, recording soundtracks for TV, films, and commercials. He has recorded with numerous artists – Chuck Mangione, Bill Holman, and Bob Florence, among others – and recorded with the big bands of Ferguson, Florence, and Holman.
Militello’s adaptability and sensitivity to all facets of music are evident on Dave Brubeck’s recording, Quiet as the Moon. His performance ranges from delicate blending with cello on the title tune to raucous blowing on “When I Was a Child” and “Travelin’ Blues.”
The most recent member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet is bassist MICHAEL MOORE, an acknowledged master of his instrument and leader of his own duo and trio that features the bass as a solo instrument. Moore has brought new recognition to an instrument once primarily regarded as a timekeeper.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Moore’s musical training began at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. He studied privately with Frank Proto of the Cincinnati Symphony and Harold Roberts and Orin O’Brian of the New York Philharmonic. After joining the Woody Herman band at the age of 20, Moore became an important player in the New York jazz scene. In the next few years, he recorded and performed with such luminaries as Marian McPartland, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Gary Burton, Jim Hall, Zoot Simms, Jimmy Rowles, Gene Bertoncini, Benny Goodman, Ruby Braff, Jimmy Raney, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Konitz, Tony Bennett, John Scofield, Bob Brookmeyer, Gil Evans – the list goes on and on. John S. Wilson of The New York Times described Moore as “one of the most consistently brilliant bassists in recent history.”