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DARIUS BRUBECK (U.S.)

DARIUS BRUBECK (U.S.)

Darius Brubeck is the son of jazz legend Dave BrubeckDarius Brubeck (b. June 14, 1947 in San Francisco, California) is a jazz keyboardist and educator.


During the 1970s, Brubeck led his own groups, played with Don McLeanLarry Coryell and toured the world with Two Generations of Brubeck and The New Brubeck Quartet (Dave, Darius, Chris and Dan Brubeck) as an additional pianist and keyboardist. Several albums were recorded along the way.

He initiated the first degree course in Jazz Studies offered by an African university and moved to South Africa in 1983. He taught at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) of Durban, South Africa and was appointed Director of the Center for Jazz and Popular Music. After retirement from full-time teaching (in 2006) he was made a Senior Research Associate of the School of Music.

Darius Brubeck taught at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul (2007) and spent the Spring semester at The Gheorghe Dima Music Academy in Cluj (Romania) in 2010.

Other Music Projects
Darius Brubeck and Afro Cool Concept (with South Africa’s premier alto saxophonist, Barney Rachabane and drummer Lulu Gontsana)
Gathering Forces was the name of Darius’ former fusion band in the ’70s and early ’80s
The Jazzanians was the first mixed-race student band from a South African university (1988)

The Darius Brubeck Quartet played a special concert celebrating 50 years of London’s Time Out

CZB: What was it like growing up in your fathers footsteps and early in your career being asked about your fathers influence on your spirit and style?

Is it like a certain standard has been imposed on you before you even started doing your own thing?

Darius Brubeck:

EARLY IN MY CAREER I WANTED TO BE AS DIFFERENT FROM MY FATHER AS POSSIBLE, FOR EXAMPLE PLAYING ALL KINDS OF ELECTRIC KEYBOARDS RATHER THAN PIANO, PLAYING FREE JAZZ, FUSION, EVEN FOLK AND ROCK MUSIC THAT HE DIDN’T PLAY, AVOIDING ‘REGULAR JAZZ’, THAT IS STANDARDS IN A POST-BOP STYLE.

AS I MATURED, I GRADUALLY IDENTIFIED MORE AND MORE WITH HIM, ESPECIALLY AS MY PIANO PLAYING IMPROVED. I DO HAVE A LARGE REPERTOIRE OF SOUTH AFRICAN TUNES AND MY OWN ORIGINALS WHICH MAKES MY PERFORMANCES DIFFERENT FROM DAVE’S ANYWAY. IN NOVEMBER IN ENGLAND, I WILL BE PLAYING MANY OF HIS COMPOSITIONS WITH TWO OF MY BROTHERS, CHRIS AND DAN AND SAXOPHONIST DAVE O’HIGGINS. IT WILL BE A 12 CITY TOUR WITH A “BRUBECKS PLAY BRUBECK” THEME.

THE SECOND PART OF YOUR QUESTION IS VERY RELEVANT AND THE ANSWER IS SIMPLY YES, THAT’S WHY I TRIED NOT TO BECOME A JAZZ MUSICIAN AT FIRST.

CZB: What attracted you to South Africa in the beginning and what attracts you to South Africa now that it has become your second homeland?

Darius Brubeck:

ONE QUICK ANSWER IS THAT MY WIFE IS SOUTH AFRICAN AND SO I WAS ALREADY INTERESTED IN THE MUSIC AND THE POLITICAL SITUATION LONG BEFORE I WENT THERE TO TEACH. I AM NO LONGER BASED THERE BUT STILL VERY CONNECTED AND WILL BE PLAYING AT THE NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL WHICH TAKES PLACE AT THE END OF JUNE AND ALSO AT THE FIFA MAIN FAN PARK IN DURBAN.

CZB: You have taugt at the Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul in 2007.

What did you teach there and what feelings did you have getting to know the European part of Turkey?

Darius Brubeck:

I WAS INTERESTED IN ALL TURKISH CULTURE AND MUSIC AND OF COURSE OFTEN PLAY MY FATHER’S WELL KNOWN COMPOSITION “BLUE RONDO A LA TURK” . IN FACT I PLAYED IT IN ISTANBUL WITH A GREAT TURKISH BASS PLAYER, KAMIL ERDAM AND OTHER MUSICIANS. I DIRECTED A STUDENT ENSEMBLE AT YILDIZ AND GAVE SOME LECTURES ON JAZZ HISTORY. GOING TO EPHESES WAS A HIGHLIGHT BECAUSE IT REVEALED SO MUCH ABOUT THE MIX OF CIVILIZATIONS THAT STARTED CENTURIES AGO. I ALSO HEARD GREAT GYPSY MUSICIANS IN TURKEY.

CZB: You spent a semester at The Gheorghe Dima Music Academy in Cluj in Spring 2010. What was your interest for coming here?

Darius Brubeck:

I DIDN’T HAVE ANY PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE OF CLUJ OR THE ACADEMY. MY WIFE AND I TOOK A VERY LONG AND COLD TRAIN RIDE IN JANUARY FROM BUCHAREST TO CLUJ ARRIVING AFTER MIDNIGHT IN THE ICY SNOW. WE WERE MET BY STEFAN VANNAI WHO DIRECTS THE BIG BAND AT THE STUDENT CULTURE HOUSE AND HAS BEEN WORKING SINGLE HANDEDLY FOR YEARS KEEPING A JAZZ PROFILE AND PROGRAM ALIVE. THE US FULBRIGHT PROGRAM SENDS SPECIALISTS AROUND THE WORLD TO TEACH OR HELP IN ANY WAY REQUESTED BY THE HOST COUNTRY AND INSTITUTION.

THE ACADEMY WHICH HAS A WONDERFUL CLASSICAL TRADITION AND STEFAN WHO COLLABORATES WITH THE ACADEMY FELT IT WOULD BE GOOD TO HOST AN EXTRA JAZZ PERSON AND, AS I AM ON THE FULBRIGHT LIST OF JAZZ TEACHERS AND PERFORMERS, THEY ASKED ME IF I WOULD LIKE TO GO. I WAS OF COURSE VERY INTERESTED IN LIVING FOR A TIME IN EASTERN EUROPE AND LEARNING ABOUT IT.

CZB: In what specific directions do you feel Cluj-Napoca should continue to develop culturally?

Darius Brubeck:

THE JAZZ CONCERTS STEFAN VANNAI ORGANIZES WITH STUDENT AND COMMUNITY TALENT ARE OBVIOUSLY POPULAR. DEVELOPMENT WILL COME TO THE EXTENT THAT TALENTED PEOPLE PARTICIPATE.

IT IS A GOOD TO HAVE AN ACCESSIBLE STRUCTURE LIKE THIS. I BELIEVE THE STUDENT CULTURE HOUSE IS A UNIQUELY ROMANIAN INSTITUTION. IT IS THE FOCAL POINT OF MUCH CREATIVITY. AT LEAST I’VE NEVER ENCOUNTERED ANYTHING LIKE IT IN OTHER COUNTRIES. WHAT WOULD HELP FURTHER DEVELOPMENT IS MORE COOPERATION BETWEEN STUDENT CULTURE HOUSE AND THE OFFICIAL MUSIC SCHOOLS IN CLUJ. THERE IS ALREADY SOME BUT IN MY REPORT TO THE FULBRIGHT COMMISSION I AM GOING TO RECOMMEND THEY CONTINUE TO FUND JAZZ VISITORS.

THERE IS OBVIOUSLY ENOUGH INTEREST THERE TO ESTABLISH A FULL-TIME JAZZ STUDIES COURSE. THIS WOULD TAKE A FEW YEARS HOWEVER.

CZB: Where were you on September 11th, 2001. What were you doing when you found out about the Twin Towers attack and what feelings stirred inside you at that specific moment?

Darius Brubeck:

I WAS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL’S CENTER FOR JAZZ AND POPULAR MUSIC AND AT FIRST WHEN SOMEONE PHONED ABOUT A CRASH INTO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER, WE DIDN’T KNOW HOW SERIOUS IT WAS. HOWEVER THAT PERSON PHONED AGAIN AND WE TURNED ON THE TV USED FOR TEACHING AND ALL ACTIVITIES STOPPED. WE DIDN’T LEAVE THE CENTER FOR HOURS JUST MESMERIZED BY WHAT WAS TAKING PLACE.

CZB: How did you feel about the first Afro-American preseident being elected in office?

Darius Brubeck:

ABSOLUTLEY ELATED. MY FATHER WAS A VERY STRONG ADVOCATE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND NEVER AGREED WITH RACIAL SEGREGATION EVEN WHEN IT MEANT LOSING JOBS BACK IN THE DAYS WHEN HE NEEDED THEM. AS A STUDENT I WAS ALSO INVOLVED IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. IT IS AMAZING TO THINK THAT WITHIN MY LIFE TIME THE POSITION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS HAS GONE FROM STRUGGLING FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE TO HAVING A PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES THAT HAS AN AFRICAN FATHER.

CZB: How do you feel music is connecting people in the 21st Century / at a time when people’s listening habits are becoming superficial through downloading individual songs off the net and watching live concerts on YouTube?

Darius Brubeck:

I THINK THIS IS A COMPLICATED QUESTION AND I HAVEN’T THOUGHT VERY MUCH ABOUT IT YET. THERE IS GREATER CONNECTION IN THE SENSE THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A MUSICIAN IN AZERBEJIAN TO HAVE AN AUDIENCE IN AMERICA, BUT, AS YOU SEEM TO SUGGEST, THE CONNECTION ISN’T NECESSARILY A VERY PROFOUND ONE. I THINK LIVE CONCERTS ARE STILL THE BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE MUSIC, WHATEVER GENRE.

CZB: How do you feel about the differences in music attitudes for people and critics in the 70′s going to a Don McLean concert and people and critics in the 2000′s going to The Darius Brubeck Quartet live set at a British Festival?

Darius Brubeck:

DIFFERENT EXPECTATIONS ARE APPROPRIATE FOR DIFFERENT KINDS OF MUSIC. A JAZZ AUDIENCE IS HOPING FOR A UNIQUE PERFORMANCE EVEN IF THE MATERIAL, THE TUNES, ARE WELL KNOWN. THEY WILL FEEL CHEATED IF YOU SIMPLY PLAY THE MELODY AND ADD SOME FAMILIAR EMBELLISHMENTS. OTHER AUDIENCES, LIKE DON MCLEAN’S, ARE THE OPPOSITE. THEY WILL FEEL UNHAPPY IF THE LIVE SHOW IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE RECORD.

CZB: Your African experience has influenced your jazz style. How do you think your Turkish and Romanian adventures will shape your rhythms in the near future?

Darius Brubeck:

I CERTAINLY ENJOY THE RHYTHMIC COMPLEXITY IN BOTH KINDS OF MUSIC. AS TO MUSICAL INFLUENCES FROM MY ROMANIAN PERIOD, I WAS IN TRANSYLVANIA EXCEPT FOR A FEW DAYS IN BUCHAREST AND SIBIU, SO I FELT A STRONGER CONNECTION TO LISZT AND BARTOK THAN I DID BEFORE,. IN FACT I RECENTLY COMPOSED A JAZZ PIECE CALLED ‘MITTELEUROPA’ WHICH IS BASED ON LISZT PIANO CONCERTO NUMBER 2. THE CLASSICAL TEACHING AND THE STUDENTS CLASSICAL PERFORMANCES AT THE ACADEMY WERE OUTSTANDING.

I ALSO LIKE MIDDLE-EASTERN MUSIC VERY MUCH AND SOMETIMES INTRODUCE STRAINS OF IT INTO MY OWN PLAYING. MY RECORDING OF BOB DYLAN’S ‘BLOWING IN THE WIND’ DEMONSTRATES THIS.

CZB: EXTRA-MUSIC. are you interested in the European Football phenomenon and what chances do you think South Africa has of winning the World Cup in 2010?

Darius Brubeck:

MY WIFE HAS BEEN PASSIONATE ABOUT FOOTBAL SINCE SHE WAS VERY YOUNG AND I HAVE BEEN CONVERTED. I WATCH A LOT OF ENGLISH PREMIERSHIP GAMES AND THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND RIGHT NOW AS MANY WORLD CUP GAMES AS I CAN. WE ARE SUPPORTING SOUTH AFRICA BUT I DON’T THINK THEY WILL WIN THE WHOLE TOURNAMENT. IT WOULD BE GREAT HOWEVER IF AN AFRICAN TEAM MAKES IT TO THE FINAL. FOOTBALL LIKE JAZZ THRIVES ON IMPROVISATION .

http://dariusbrubeck.com

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