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Jun 28

Jazz Goes To College

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

With only six weeks to go before the election, I figured it was a pretty good idea to get out of town now for a few days.

I thought the best thing I could do was try and track down Dave Brubeck. Everyone has that one guy they seek out or follow around the country. For a lot people, it was Jerry Garcia. For others, it’s someone like JD Salinger. It used to be Ray Charles for me, but once he died, I needed a pianist to admire. Enter Mr. Brubeck.

Tracking him down was pretty easy. He’s lived in Wilton, CT for over forty years. His kids live there. He built a state-of-the-art performance space in the Wilton Public Library. Wilton is known for two things: being a dry town and being Mr. Brubeck’s home. How hard could it be?

It wasn’t hard at all. He’s in the phone book, and he has a mailbox shaped like a grand piano. It was simple.

As an aside, the first time I met Ray Charles was in an airport in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His entire band was dining in a Sbarro or Cinnabon or something. I pretended to be an employee and went over to bus his table. I actually was standing right next to him at one point. I went to say something like, “I’m a big fan Mr. Charles,” but right before I did, David “Fathead” Newman put his plate on the tray I was carrying and got pizza sauce or something red and stainy all over the front of my shirt. Brush with greatness or stained with shame? You decide.


So I drive right up to his house. I park the car. And I get out and walk to the front door. I knocked on the door and received no response. I wasn’t about to come all this way, knock once, and fail, so I knocked a little louder. Still nothing. Then I heard the piano. Classic Brubeck. He was in his music room or where ever he keeps his piano and he was ignoring me.

I sort of banged harder trying to get his attention, but he just started playing louder. Whenever I knocked louder, the music crecendoed. Finally after about ten minutes of this I yelled, “Come to the door, Brubeck! I know you’re in there.” Needless to say, my offer to meet was not accepted. Luckily, I was able to record a bit of his playing. He kept playing “Blue Rondo a la Turk” over and over and over. I yelled, “Play ‘Take Five’ you grumpy old man” a couple of times, but he just kept banging away.

I suppose it doesn’t make getting smeared with sauce seem so bad.

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