The average age on stage during the Dave Brubeck Quartet's performance was somewhere around 70, but they played with a speed and flexibility that most 25-year-olds couldn't master, and with the maturity and insight that only so many years playing jazz can bring. Throughout the Dave Brubeck Quintet's set, the music was melodic and accessible without being out of date.
Dave Brubeck. Photo by Mike Rainey.
Brubeck's music features figures from the past filtered through Brubeck's unique, modern voice. While other acts pull in reggae and ska, Brubeck extends the reach of greats like Schubert, Rachmaninov and Debussy.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Photo by Mike Rainey.
What Brubeck doesn't play is as important as what he does play. He could make it all about his piano playing, but he doesn't. He's a generous performer, leaving the space for drummer Randy Jones to show off his effortless skill at intricate tempo changes, Bobby Militello to show his fleet fingers on both flute and saxophone, and Michael Moore to show his startling fluidity on the bass. When other artists are soloing, Brubeck's attention is totally focused on them. He listens to what they play and responds to it, and as a result the music sounds like a conversation being held between instruments.
Dave Brubeck and Bobby Militello. Photo by Mike Rainey.
And then they brought down the house with Take Five, making it sound as fresh and original as when it was released.
For more coverage of the Monterey Jazz Festival, see our Monterey Jazz Festival category.