Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



Chris Brubeck (b 19 March 1952, Los Angeles CA), bass, trombone, composer; and drummer Dan Brubeck (b 4 May 1955, Oakland CA), sons of Dave Brubeck, one of the most successful jazz musicians of all time; joined by guitarist, composer and producer Mike DeMicco, and more recently by keyboardist, percussionist and composer Chuck Lamb. All four of them are exceptionally accomplished.

Chris Brubeck's orchestral CD Convergence includes the three-movement title piece, six songs with orchestra commissioned by and sung by Frederica Von Stade, and the Prague Concerto for bass trombone and orchestra. Another piece, a concerto for three violins called Interplay, was played by Regina Carter, Eileen Ivers and Nadje Salerno-Sonnenberg, and won a Deems Taylor award from ASCAP.

Dan Brubeck has played with folks like Roy Buchanan, Larry Coryell, Jerry Bergonzi, Gerry Mulligan and Andy LaVerne; he led his own group, the Dolphins, and played on a live concert recording with his father and the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Grammy-nominated Trio Brubeck '93 on Music Masters with Dave and Chris. He played for the 38th annual Grammy awards as his dad got a lifetime achievement award. Two of the Dolphins' CDs were Malayan Breeze '90 and Old World New World '92 on Digital Music Productions. DeMicco was a member of the Dolphins; Lamb was a co-founder of Dry Jack, a leading fusion group; both have toured the world playing with dozens of celebrated contemporary artists.

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet plays very fine straightahead modern jazz, their originals a unique flavor. Their CDs began with Second Nature 2001 on Blue Forest, with keyboardist Pete Levin playing organ on some tracks. There were three tunes composed by Dave Brubeck, one by Chris, one by Levin, one by DeMicco, and the highlights were a slow and funky version of Paul Desmond's 'Take 5' and a 15-minute-long remake of the Dolphins' 'Old World New World', credited to Dan, DeMicco and two others. BBQ albums on Koch include Intuition 2006, with guest pianist Taylor Eigsti (b 24 September 1984, recorded with Dan at age 14), and with Lamb joining, Classified 2008, which includes Chris's three-part Vignettes 'for woodwind quintet and jazz quartet', a commission organized by Tom Wolf of Bay Chamber Concerts of Maine, with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra Society. On the recording the Imani Winds are Valerie Coleman, flute; Monica Ellis, bassoon; Mariam Adam, clarinet; Jeff Scott, French horn; and Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe. An arrangement of Dave Brubeck's famous 'Blue Rondo a la Turk' also includes the winds; if some of us have heard the tune a bit too often, it makes an effective closer for the album.

Vignettes is through-composed; the group effectively becomes a nonet, rather than the elements sticking out the way they sometimes do in 'crossover' music. The woodwind writing sounded to one listener as though its chirpy whimsy may have been influenced by the chamber music of Alec Wilder (see his entry); Chris Brubeck answered an email query on this point saying that other people had made the same observation, but that he'd never heard any of Wilder's music, so it is a coincidence of the muse. Wilder's music remained obscure, but the much bigger music business of today has made some room for the Brubeck boys: Classified was one of the nicer CDs being played in Barnes & Noble stores in May 2008.

Chris has led other groups, e.g. Triple Play; for more info about the brothers' recording activities including album Bach To Brubeck, brother Darius etc go here. (David Darius Brubeck, b 14 June 1947, San Francisco, is a pianist and educator who has lived and worked in Africa for many years.)