WASHINGTON – Groundbreaking jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck performed at Blues Alley in Georgetown in 2010 and enjoyed it so much he returned for another concert at the intimate club last year, the club’s manager recalls.
Brubeck passed away Wednesday at age 91.
“I kind of equate it to like a sports experience where you’re in the presence of greatness, and the whole crowd was hinging on every note. He wasn’t quite as nimble with the fingers anymore, but his mind was still there,” says Kris Ross, operations director at Blues Alley.
“A lot of times you get these guys who come in here and they play a couple notes here and a couple notes there for each tune, but he played throughout every song, was very strong, and just very engaging with the audience,” Ross says.
“He was like the epitome of what you would expect a musician to be. Completely professional, groundbreaking in what he did, and absolutely humble.”
Ross says when Brubeck performed his signature song, it always drew a big crowd reaction.
“People who don’t know about jazz know Dave Brubeck. And if they don’t know who Brubeck is, they know that song “Take Five.” … it’s a lot of people’s whole idea of jazz in that one song, that sort of cool smoky club kind of thing with some guy at the piano,” says Ross.
If you’re wondering if Brubeck’s recent Blues Alley concerts were recorded, the answer is sadly no. Ross says you simply had to be there.
However, Ross says two pianists scheduled to play the club soon, Dick Morgan and Monty Alexander, are likely to throw in a Brubeck tune in tribute.
Find more information about those upcoming shows check out the club’s site.