Archive for 2012

Dave Brubeck

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Dave Brubeck
A celebrated jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck is living proof that originality and success can go
hand in hand. Even though critics who had favored Brubeck when he was less well known disliked him
after the success of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, he never compromised or altered his music in order to
gain a wider audience. From his popularity in playing college campuses with the Dave Brubeck Quartet
to touring America and Europe later in his career, Brubeck became a leading name in the jazz world
and is one of five jazz musicians who have been featured on the cover of Time magazine. His most
famous pieces, “Time Out,” ”Take Five,” ”Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Three to Get Ready” are still
praised and performed today.

Born in Concord, California, on December 6, 1920, Brubeck was convinced early in life that he wanted
to be a cattle rancher like his father, Howard. He learned classical piano at the insistence of his mother
Elizabeth but did not learn to read sheet music until much later in life; instead, he memorized his
lessons so his teachers would not see his difficulty.

Brubek’s professors at the University of the Pacific convinced him to switch to a music major from
veterinary science, but Brubeck was nearly expelled when it was learned he could not read music.
Several of his teachers vouched for his skill in playing piano and his ear for harmony and Brubeck was
allowed to graduate on the condition that he would never teach piano. He graduated in 1942 and was
drafted into the army where he led a service band in General Patton’s army during World War II.


Charles Mingus

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012


Charles Mingus is best known as a multi-talented musician whose colleagues included celebrities such
as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. His skills included composition and
conducting as well as notable talent in both the piano and string bass. Arguably his greatest claim to
fame was his “Renaissance Man” quality – his ability to adapt and master all aspects of the jazz genre


Charles Parker

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Charles Parker, Jr. was born August 29 of 1920 to Charles and Addie Parker. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, he dropped out of high school in 1935 to join the local Musicians Union. He had started playing the saxophone at age 11 and learned much of what he knew from his father.

Parker’s father was a singer, dancer, and pianist on the T.O.B.A. (Theater Owners Booking Association) circuit. His father worked a great deal and his mother worked nights at a Western Union office. He spent much of his time with a young musician that taught Parker improvisation, a happenstance that would change his life and jazz as we know it.

Sadly, Parker had an automobile accident as a teenager that left him addicted to morphine. This soon led to an addiction to heroin which he used until it took part in ending his life. During the 1930s, Parker practiced for 3-4 years as much as 15 hours per day, developing his improvisation skills and the sound that led to bebop. He played with local bands, eventually joining Jay McShann’s territory band in 1938, with which he participated in his first recording.

One night in 1939, when Parker was jamming with William “Biddy” Fleet, he had a sudden realization. He found that twelve tones of the chromatic scale could work into any key, which was a major change from the simpler jazz solos of the day. Some of the traditional jazz musicians at first rejected Parker’s new style, but others like Coleman Hawkins and Benny Goodman were excited about the sound and even helped form the new bebop movement.