I had set aside today's entry thinking that I would put a little something together in honor of Pearl Harbor Day. But then nothing unusual or interesting came to me.
Until earlier this week when we lost a great American. An icon. A legend.
Master jazz musician; Dave Brubeck. He passed away this week a day before he was to turn 92 years old.
Given the season of the year, perhaps this little Brubeck gem is appropriate:
Mr. Brubeck was also a U.S. Army veteran who served with Patton's 3rd Army. He ended up playing the piano for some of the other soldiers stationed in Europe and was asked to put together a band to keep the guys entertained. Which he did.
Aside from his visionary piano performances, Mr. Brubeck was also a leader in the area of civil rights. His quartet was one of the first racially integrated bands in the Army. He maintained that sort of integration after leaving the Army which caused no small bit of trouble on some college campuses where they played.
Some musicians and critics openly resented his success, and others questioned his prominence in a form of music that was created primarily by black musicians.
But Mr. Brubeck was an outspoken advocate of racial harmony and often used his music as a platform for cross-cultural understanding. He once canceled 23 of 25 concerts in the South when local officials would not allow his African American bass player, Eugene Wright, to appear with the rest of the group.
On a tour in the Netherlands in the 1950s, the African American pianist Willie “The Lion” Smith was asked, in Mr. Brubeck’s presence, “Isn’t it true that no white man can play jazz?”
Without answering at first, Smith gestured toward Mr. Brubeck and said to the reporter, “I’d like you to meet my son.”
His gifts to the uniquely American world of jazz music were many. His creations have inspired generations of musicians as well as simple jazz enthusiasts like me.
And while Europe isn't the Pacific...and it sure isn't Pearl Harbor...there is at least a modest tie with the day and those that served. As someone that opened up new perspectives in American culture, I'm sure that Dave Brubeck would appreciate the attempt.
You can listen to NPR's remembrance of Mr. Brubeck here.
The title of this entry is a bit of a pun. Dave Brubeck innovated with unique musical time signatures based on his travels around the world . It ain't much of a pun, but it works. Again, I think Mr. Brubeck would get it and appreciate it.