Skip to comments.Death of a Christian jazzman
Posted on 12/07/2012 5:14:55 AM PST by rhema
Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck died at age 92. The man and his quartet showed sheer genius. My old guitar teacher once sat in with him and it was one of the highlights of his life. Brubeck was a Christian who composed a great deal of sacred music. From David A. Anderson:
I approached the composition as a prayer, jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck said of his To Hope! A Celebration, a contemporary setting for the Roman Catholic Mass, concentrating upon the phrases, trying to probe beneath the surface, hoping to translate into music the powerful words which have grown through the centuries.
Probing beneath the surface marked all of Brubecks music, from the revolutionary 1959 polyrhythmic album Time Out, to his oratorio, A Light in the Wilderness, and his setting of Thomas Aquinas hymn, Pange Lingua.
Brubeck is best known in the secular jazz world for his startling compositions using different time signatures, such as 5/4 time in the classic Take Five, or the mixture of 9/8 time and the more traditional 4/4 rhythm of Blue Rondo a la Turk. Both pieces are on the Time Out album, the first jazz album to sell 1 million copies and still one of the best-selling.
Religious faith, however, was never far from Brubecks creative mind. . . .
In a 2009 interview with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Brubeck said his service in World War II convinced him something should be done musically to strengthen mans knowledge of God.
That experience gave him the idea of an oratorio based on the Ten Commandments, particularly the Thou shalt not kill part.
But he did not act on the idea of writing sacred music until 1965, when he wrote a short piece, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, to comfort his brother, Howard, whose son had died of a brain tumor at age 16.
That piece was incorporated into 1968s A Light in the Wilderness, his first full-scale sacred composition.
That was followed by a series of pieces including 1969s The Gates of Justice, a choral work using words from Martin Luther King, Jr.; Truth is Fallen, in 1971; La Fiesta de la Posada in 1975; and Beloved Son, in 1978.
When I write a piece, a sacred piece, Im looking hard and trying to discover what Im about, and what my parents were about and the world is about, he told Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.
Raised a Protestant although never baptized, Brubeck became a Roman Catholic in 1980 after completing To Hope!, a Mass setting commissioned by the Catholic periodical, Our Sunday Visitor.
via The sacred ran through jazz legend Dave Brubecks music
Brubeck shows that its certainly possible and desirable to have contemporary Christian music, even to have it used in worshipif it could only be rich and complex and artistic and in accord with the Christian sensibility, unlike much of what passes for that genre today.
Here is his Celebration Mass. Its just over 10 minutes, but keep listening for the choral parts and for when his quartet breaks in (around the 4 minute mark).
Here is Take Five, Brubecks most famous piece. (Pick out the 5/4 time.) Brubeck right now is taking five before the Resurrection.
Brubeck at his best. RIP
There has always been a fair amount of Christian-themed jazz. Not surprising, actually, because (a) jazz and African-American gospel music come out of the same musical roots (blues and spirituals), and (b) most African-American jazz musicians grew up in Protestant churches. Some good examples are "Bending Toward the Light: A Jazz Nativity" and Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts.
Give me bluegrass gospel, a boogie rhythm, or something bluesy, and I’m happy.
Seems to me that almost all tribes and peoples had some form of worship music. And God knows it gets us right where He wants it, in the heart.
I’m sorry to say that I did not know that Dave Brubeck truly put his heart in his music, but I did love “Take Five”. Sooo mellow.