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Stockton Celebrates Its First Brubeck Festival Without Dave

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(Stockton, CA)
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Among the headliners at this year's Brubeck Festival, which continues in Stockton through Saturday, March 23rd, are the Tom Harrell Quintet, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
When Wynton steps on stage with his 15-piece band Friday night at the Bob Hope Theatre, you can expect fond words about Dave Brubeck. In 2010, the two men performed together at the Newport Jazz Festival. That's when Marsalis called Brubeck "the very essence of what is American greatness."
0321PC Brufest record
(from the Brubeck Collection at University of the Pacific/photo credit: Andrew Nixon)
"I think it's appropriate that Wynton should be here at the first festival post Dave's passing," says the Director of the Brubeck Institute and producer of the festival Simon Rowe. "Wynton is a very similar figure to Dave in the way that he has affected the world, the way that he uses the art form as a platform for discussion of important social issues, cultural issues."
Civil rights, cultural exchange… both were extremely important to Dave Brubeck. So was jazz education, perhaps because when he attended the College of the Pacific all those years ago, he wasn't even allowed to play jazz let alone study it.
Now, the Brubeck Institute annually recruits five of the country's top young musicians to study in Stockton. They get plenty of experience performing too, including spots at the Brubeck Festival.
0321PC Brufest Face
(from the Brubeck Collection at University of the Pacific/photo credit: Andrew Nixon)
"The kids that have been found for the Brubeck Institute, I've always referred to them as the X-Men," says composer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Brubeck.  
"They're like the jazz mutants that have these incredible powers.Then they're going on to have really quite successful careers as they go out in the real world.  And that gave my dad immense satisfaction."
Another thing that gave Dave Brubeck immense satisfaction was hearing his sons perform. This Saturday at the festival, The Brubeck Brothers Quartet will honor Dave by performing new arrangements of familiar tunes of his like "The Duke." 
Last year the quartet recorded a CD of this material as a tribute to Dave, while he was still with us.
"My brother Dan and I and Chuck Lamb the pianist and Mike DeMicco the guitarist really wanted to let Dave know how much what he stood for meant to us," explains Chris Brubeck.  "We would come back from the studio and say 'hey dad, look at this take we did of your tune.'  And he would just shake his head when he'd hear Mike DeMicco play some blazingly fast run from one of his tunes."
0321PC Brufest Archive
(from the Brubeck Collection at University of the Pacific/photo credit: Andrew Nixon)
Saturday's tribute concert will also feature some of the sacred choral works composed by Dave Brubeck, including lyrics by his wife and musical partner Iola, whom he met while attending Pacific and who will be coming from their home in Connecticut to attend the festival.
It will no doubt be a bittersweet night for the family, friends and fans of Dave Brubeck. Bittersweet perhaps... but, at least for Chris Brubeck, not sad.
"You know how it is when, like part of your tooth falls out and your tongue feels this gaping Grand Canyon of a hole?" asks Brubeck. "We all sort of thought we would feel that way emotionally now that Dave is gone. But, he left so much behind that we don't feel that way. We don't feel empty."

"When you think of the scope and the variety and the richness of the material and the fact that it's being reworked and recreated constantly," adds Simon Rowe, "I think there's no way that we can't feel his presence around us."

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