Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Taking five with Dave Brubeck at The Dakota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

While one expects that Dave Brubeck and his quartet would sell out multiple performances at The Dakota Jazz Club after performing for 58 years on the world's music stages, that the legendary pianist still has it going on musically may be assumed, subject to verification. Seeing, and hearing, confirmed the faith of Twin Cities fans gathered in Minneapolis, Nov. 4, for the last of six shows over three evenings.

Holding court at the Dakota's Steinway, the 89-year-old Brubeck made playing with one hand sound like three or four, as he did in a solo containing echoes of "Sweet Georgia Brown" that morphed into interludes for bassist Michael Moore and drummer Randy Jones. This followed an opening mix featuring solos for Moore and saxophonist Bobby Militello.

Each piece mesmerized more than the last in a set that continued without interruption for nearly 100 minutes. "Over the Rainbow" opened with Brubeck on keyboard, gave way to a transcendant flute rendition by Militello, and closed with piano and flute together. In Brubeck's "Dziekuje," composed during a 1958 tour of Poland, the opening homage to Chopin evolved into a wailing sax before resolving to a finish by the group.

For an aficianado of jazz music and dance, the quartet's concluding, 2009 version of "Take Five" missed only one element: the presence of the jazz choreographer Danny Buraczeski, who created the definitive dance expression of Brubeck's classic in his 1980 work "Fission."

A boisterous and affectionate applause brought Brubeck back for whimsical solo encores, beginning with "I'm tired and I wanna go home." The audience – whose members included the Minnesota Orchestra's Osmo Vänskä, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra's Bill Schrickel, and veteran arts administrator Jon Lewis –  then joined in to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and to hum along with "Lullabye."

In a verbal valedictory, Brubeck said, "I always enjoy our concerts here, and I hope to see you all again sometime."

Brubeck will be presented with a Kennedy Center Honors medallion at a Dec. 5 dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The other honorees will include the soprano/mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry and rock-and-roll artist Bruce Springsteen, both of whom have performed in the Twin Cities in recent years. President Obama will host a White House reception for the honorees on Dec. 6, before the telecast gala from the Kennedy Center.

Performers at The Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant in coming months will include Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, Nov. 10-11; The Bad Plus, Dec. 25-27; Mark O'Connor, Jan. 20; and Ahmad Jamal, late Feb.

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