Davebrubeckquartet1967aThere was a big guy in the audience at a Dave Brubeck concert, plonked awkwardly in one of those little red auditorium seats (i.e. knees up above his waste because he was too tall to fit comfortably), and he was rocking out.  Legs jostling, hand tapping his thigh, swaying, bobbing his neck forward and back.

The woman beside him was trying to be patient.  But, she’d come to hear the music.  Eventually turned and asked him in a hiss to please sit still.  The guy said, sorry, sorry, sorry.  But it was hard.  His knees kept jittering.  All through the show.

Then, toward the end, Dave Brubeck turned away from his piano and said, I’d like to welcome my son Chris up onto the stage.  The big guy in the audience didn’t rub it in.  He just turned to the woman next to him — she was between him and the nearest aisle — and said, excuse me, stood up, slipped awkwardly by, and hopped up onstage.  A stagehand walked out to hand him a trombone.

CaptureA fine trombonist, Chris Brubeck.  Also plays fretless bass.  And listens to music like somebody who really, truly loves music.  Who can’t help but move.  Yet still tolerates the listening habits of others with grace.

R.I.P., Dave, 1920-2012.  He kneaded my hands when we met in 2008, trying to transfer a bit of his magic.  And “Unsquare Dance” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” still bring so much joy.


p.s.  One bonus Dave Brubeck story.  My uncle was playing at a tribute show, and at one point in the evening he had his eyes closed, playing a solo.  And the audience burst into loud applause.  My uncle thought he must be playing great!  Honestly, I have no doubt he was.  But then he heard the piano and realized, no, everyone was clapping because Dave Brubeck had just stepped onto the stage.