One Night Long Ago With Dave Brubeck

When I was in college at Baylor University, most of the entertainment brought to campus was clearly booked by someone who had no idea what Young Weasels wanted to see or hear. Granted, it’s a Baptist college, so I wasn’t expecting Black Sabbath, but …

One semester, though, I was completely jazzed — pun intended — that Two Generations of Brubeck performed on campus in Waco Hall.

The band featured Dave Brubeck and three of his precociously talented sons: Darius on keyboards, Chris on trombone and bass, and Danny on drums.

Though admittedly not familiar with a lot of Brubeck’s material other than “Take 5,” even a moron like the 20-Year-Old Rick knew the concert was a terrific opportunity to witness greatness.

And indeed, from seats very close to the stage, the music and virtuosity was everything anticipated and more. Here’s what I remember most:

After about an hour, the band took a break and retreated to their dressing rooms. As the minutes crept by and the intermission seemed to reach Uncomfortably Protracted territory, Dave Brubeck came back out onstage — the houselights still up — and approached the microphone. His apologetic grin and body language exuded goodwill and humor, and he explained that, somehow, one of his sons was locked in a dressing room and no one could get the door open.

Custodial folks had been notified, Brubeck said, and hopefully the kiddo would be liberated at top speed and the performance could continue. Brubeck was very sorry for the delay, he said.

A voice called out from the audience: “Well, go ahead and just play something!”

A huge smile creased Brubeck’s face and he looked delighted. “That’s a great idea!” he exclaimed — and he sat down at the piano bench and. Absolutely. Ripped. It. Up.

I’ve no idea whether it was improv — looking back with a bit more knowledge, I’d say yeah, it probably was — but, wow, Brubeck just went pyrotechnic. Whatever he was playing built in exhilharating fashion, the aural equivalent of watching a rocket blast off from close range, and he just stinkin’ smoked it.

I actually felt sorry for the boys once they rejoined him onstage. There was no way to compete with Dad’s unplanned mini-set, although, of course, the rest of the show WAS very good.

I’m just really happy I was there that night when a one-man volcano called Dave Brubeck absolutely errupted in joyous abandon.

Rest In Peace.

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