This Week In Music

Birthday: Pianist Dave Brubeck, December 6, 1920-2012

Equally distinguished as a pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck's brilliant jazz career almost didn't get started. Brubeck's mother had studied piano in England and encouraged Brubeck's two older brothers' to develop an interest in classical music. Dave, meanwhile, was already performing popular tunes on the piano at age four. When the Brubeck family moved to a cattle ranch in California, young Dave thought he had found his calling. He told his mother, "Ma, you've got two musicians. I want to be a cattleman."

Fortunately for posterity, by age 15 Brubeck also enjoyed playing piano at weekend dances. 18-year-old Brubeck enrolled at College of the Pacific in Stockton, California, with the intention of becoming a veterinarian. After a year he changed his major, graduating with a music degree in 1942. Immediately drafted into the army, Brubeck served in Europe during World War II, later enrolling in Mills College, where he studied with composer Darius Milhaud after his return.

At Mills, Brubeck helped form the Jazz Workshop Ensemble, which was known as the Dave Brubeck Octet by the time they made their first recordings in 1949. Among Brubeck's fellow musicians in the Octet were Latin-influenced vibraphonist Cal Tjader and saxophonist Paul Desmond. After the highly experimental Octet folded, Brubeck formed a trio that performed jazz standards for several years before starting the Dave Brubeck Quarter in 1951. With Brubeck on piano, the rest of the Quartet consisted of Joe Dodge on drums, Bob Bates on bass, and Paul Desmond on sax. The Quartet's first album, 1953's Jazz at Oberlin was one of the first jazz LPs recorded at a concert rather than in the studio. Just three years after the Quartet's founding, Brubeck became the first jazz musician to be featured on Time magazine's cover. (By the mid '50s Eugene Wright had replaced Bates on bass, and Joe Morello had taken over the drum throne from Dodge.)

Brubeck encouraged the group to experiment with non-traditional time signatures, heralding a new musical idiom sometimes referred to as West Coast Cool Jazz. Brubeck's strategy of having the Quartet perform most of their gigs on college campuses created an influential, enthusiastic, and loyal fan base. As a result of their popularity, the Brubeck group ushered in a new era of interest in jazz. New Yorker magazine hailed them as "the world's best-paid, most widely travelled, most highly publicized, and most popular small group now playing improvised syncopated music."

During his extensive career Brubeck has played for four U.S. presidents, been elected to the DownBeat Hall of Fame, named San Francisco Jazz Festival Laureate, appeared at an international summit in Moscow, received the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award, a National Medal of the Arts, six honorary doctorates, and the Duke Ellington Fellowship at Yale University, among other honors.

Dave Brubeck passed away on December 5, 2012 at the age of 91.


MozartWolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the most inventive composers of his time. Among his over 600 compositions are many acknowledged to have explored and perfected their forms to a previously unreached degree. He is renowned for having created masterpieces in every musical form that he touched: symphonies, concertos, chamber music, operas, and choral music. Mozart's music, like that of his mentor Joseph Haydn's helped to define the classical style. Increasingly influenced by baroque music as he matured, Mozart advanced the technical sophistication and emotional reach of the already out-of-style baroque while adding increasing counterpoint to his own music. Throughout his career Mozart's increasingly sophisticated orchestration influenced his operas and his use of the orchestra for dramatic effect in his operas added psychological depth to his instrumental pieces.

1791, Mozart's final year, included the composition of some of his most esteemed works: his final piano concerto, the Clarinet concerto in A major, the last of his string quintets, his opera The Magic Flute, and the monumental but unfinished Requiem. He contracted an illness in Prague where he premiered his opera La clemenza di Tito on September 6, and was bedridden by November. Mozart died at 1 a.m. on December 5 at age 35 leaving behind a wife and 2 surviving sons.


Week of November 28, 2011
Birthday: Trumpeter Randy Brecker, November 27, 1945

Event: Composer George Gershwin Plays the Piano for the World Premiere of his "Concerto in F" at Carnegie Hall, December 3, 1925

Week of November 21, 2011
Birthday: Saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, November 21, 1904

Event: The First Jukebox Debuts at San Francisco's Palais Royale Saloon, November 23, 1889

Week of November 14, 2011
Birthday: Pianist Ellis Marsalis, November 14, 1934

Event: Lenoard Bernstein Makes His Conducting Debut with the New York Philharmonic, November 14, 1943

Week of November 07, 2011
Birthday: Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, November 6, 1949

Event: Birth of Composer John Philip Sousa, November 6, 1854

Week of October 31, 2011
Event: Billboard Started Publishing as Billboard Advertising, November 1, 1894

Birthday: Trumpeter Clifford Brown, October30, 1930

Week of October 24, 2011
Event: James Brown records Live at the Apollo, Volume I, October 24, 1962

Birthday: Trombonist Robin Eubanks, October 25, 1955

Week of October 17, 2011
Event: Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra record "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," October 18, 1935

Birthday: Trumpeter Roy Hargrove, October 16, 1969

Week of October 10, 2011
Event: October 11, 1939 CBS Vibraphone Performer Dave Samuels Records "Body and Soul"

Birthday: Vibraphone Performer Dave Samuels, October 9, 1948

Week of October 3, 2011
Event: CBS Radio broadcasts The New York Philharmonic Orchestra live from Carnegie Hall for the first time, October 5, 1930

Birthday: Blues Guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn, October 3, 1954

Week of September 26, 2011
Event: Composer Leonard Bernstein's musical West Side Story opens at New York's Winter Garden Theater, September 26, 1957

Birthday: Violinist and composer Jean-Luc Ponty, September 29, 1942

Week of September 19, 2011
Event: Fiddler on the Roof Open on Broadway Starting a Run that Extends to 3,242 Performances

Birthday: Cornetist Jim Cullum, Jr, September 20, 1941

Week of September 12, 2011
Event: The Metropolitan Opera Opens its New Opera House at New York's Lincoln Center
for the Performing Arts

Birthday: Trumpeter Brian Lynch, September 12, 1956

Week of September 5, 2011
Event: Singer Songwriter, and Record Producer Otis Redding,
Records His Hit "(Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay"

Birthday: Sonny Rollins, September 7, 1930

Week of August 29, 2011
Event: George Gershwin Completes the Orchestral Score for His Opera Porgy and Bess

Birthday: Charlie Parker, August 29, 1920

Week of August 22, 2011
Event: Charles G. Conn Receives a Patent for the Metal Clarinet

Birthday: Leonard Bernstein, August 25, 1918

Week of August 15, 2011
Event: The New York Times Reports that Dolby had Developed a Noise Reduction System for Album and Tape Recording

Birthday: Marc O'Connor, August 15, 1961

Week of August 08, 2011
Event: 14-Year-Old Benny Goodman Works as a Clarinet Player on a Lake Michigan Excursion Boat

Birthday: Pat Metheny, August 12, 1954

Week of August 01, 2011
Event: The Army of France Adds Saxophonesto its Military Bands

Birthday: Tony Bennett, August 3, 1926

Week of July 18, 2011
Event: First Newport Jazz Festival

Birthday: Carl Fontana Born July 18, 1928

Week of July 11, 2011
Event: "His Masters Voice" Trademark Registered

Birthday: Bélla Fleck Born July 10, 1958

Week of July 5, 2011
Event: Benny Goodman and His Band Record "Sing, Sing, Sing"

Birthday: Pinetop Perkins Born July 7, 1913

Week of June 27, 2011
Event: Cab Calloway and His Orchestra Record "St. James Infirmary""

Birthday: Pete Fountain Born July 3, 1930

Week of June 20, 2011
Event: 19 Year-Old Arturo Toscanini Conducts the Rio de Janeiro Orchestra in a Performance of "Aida"

Birthday: Lalo Schifrin Born June 21, 1932

Week of June 13, 2011
Event: New York Jazz Museum Opens

Birthday: Marcus Miller Born June 14, 1959

Week of June 06, 2011
Event: Jelly Roll Morton Records "Jelly Roll Blues" As a Piano Solo

Birthday: Bill Watrous Born June 08, 1939

Week of May 30, 2011
Event: 1962 Bandleader Benny Goodman Leads The First American Jazz Band to Play In The Soviet Union

Birthday: Benny Goodman Born May 30, 1909

Week of May 23, 2011
Event: "In a Precursor to Outdoor Rock Festivals, Ray Charles and B.B. King Perform For 9,000 Fans in Atlanta

Birthday: Miles Davis Born May 26, 1926

Week of May 16, 2011
Event: "When The Saints Go Marching In" Recorded by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra

Birthday: Woody Herman Born May 16, 1913

Week of May 2, 2011
Event: New York's Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center Announces Addition of Rock, Pop, and Jazz Concerts

Birthday: Maynard Ferguson Born May 4, 1928

Week of April 25, 2011
Event: At Decca Studios Charlie Parker Made His First Commercial Recording April 30, 1941

Birthday: Duke Ellington Born April 29, 1899

Week of April 18, 2011
Event: Pipeless Organ Patented by Laurens Hammond April 24, 1934

Birthday: Tito Puente Born April 20, 1923

Week of April 4, 2011
Event: Herp Alpert Born April 4, 1939

Birthday: Freddie Hubbard Born April 7, 1938

Week of March 28, 2011
Birthday: Michael Brecker Born March 29, 1949

Birthday: Herp Alpert Born March 31, 1935

Week of March 14, 2011
Event: Joseph Haydn's Surprise Symphony Is Performed for the First Time March 23, 1792

Birthday: Johann Sebastian Bach Born March 21, 1685

Week of March 7, 2011
Event: Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians Recorded Auld Lang Syne March 7, 1939

Birthday: Leon Bismark (Bix) Beiderbecke March 10, 1903

Week of February 28, 2011
Event: Miles Davis Records "Kind of Blue" on Columbia Records March 2, 1959
Birthday: Frédéric Chopin Marc 1, 1810

Week of February 21, 2011
Event: Duke Ellington Records "The Queen's Suite"
Birthday: Dexter Gordon February 27, 1923

Week of February 14, 2011
Event: Sonny Rollins Records his Title Track "The Bridge" February 14, 1962
Birthday: Buddy DeFranco February 17, 1923

Week of February 7, 2011
Event: Rhapsody in Blue is Performed for the First Time February 12, 1924
Birthday: Marion "Buddy" Childers February 12, 1926

Week of January 31, 2011
Event: Frank Sinatra Debuts on Radio's "Your Hit Parade" February 6, 1943
Birthday: Stanley "Stan" Getz February 2, 1927

Week of January 24, 2011
Event: Original Dixieland Jazz Band Makes the First Jazz Record January 30, 1917
Birthday: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart January 27, 1756