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The Brubeck Beat Goes On And On

September 19, 1986|A. JAMES LISKA

For more than four decades the jazz world has had a Brubeck to contend with.

Currently, there are two other Brubecks--Chris and Danny--to contend with. Their trio, the Brubeck-LaVerne Trio with pianist Andy LaVerne, has a just-released album on the Blackhawk label and is in the midst of a three-week West Coast tour that includes three nights, at Donte's in North Hollywood, ending Saturday.

This is hardly the first time the two brothers have performed together. Along with older brother Darius, Chris and Danny joined their father in 1976 for a series of concerts celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Dave Brubeck Quartet under the name Two Generations of Brubecks.

"It always sounded like the name of a boat or something," said Chris Brubeck in a phone interview from his father's home in Connecticut, suggesting that the name made the group seem as if it were in a constant state of retrospection.

By 1980, Darius and Dan had left the group to pursue other musical interests. Chris, who plays both trombone and bass guitar, stayed in the family fold.

"I'd already had my own creative juices presented to the public," this 34-year-old Brubeck said. His rock band, the New Heavenly Blue, made its debut in 1970 and Sky King, a band he described as presenting "thinking man's funk," bowed in 1974.

"It turned out, though, that I, while staying with Dave, have been more able to do things," Brubeck said.

While working about 90 concert dates a year with his father, Brubeck has managed to keep busy with a variety of projects from folk music to two in-progress works for Broadway. He's written with Bobby Womack, for Patti LaBelle and was commissioned to write a musical on the life of David for the National Pastoral Musicians' Conference.

But the trio also gets a lot of his attention. The Brubeck-LaVerne Trio's "See How It Feels," was recorded live before they began layering it with overdubbed multiple tracks. Though it represents the best of both worlds for the musicians--the "live" sound and the advantages of recording technology--Brubeck does say that the recorded sound cannot be duplicated in concert. It was a worry allayed by some recent concert appearances on the East Coast.

"We do the same material and it's surprising how well it went over," Brubeck said.

"We actually surprised ourselves," Brubeck said. "It's strange that Danny and I are together. I'm very happy-go-lucky and Danny's very intense. He looks so fiercely into it. People who aren't even into jazz dig his drumming. And Andy's so lost in thought that he hardly moves.

"I'm used to the standards set by Dave," Brubeck said, adding, "it's now my standard, too."

Chris Brubeck is keenly aware of what his family name means in jazz.

"It's the kind of thing that opens doors," Brubeck admitted, "and in that way it helps.

"But it has made it difficult to experiment (musically). After all, I don't want to embarrass the old man, so I don't have the luxury of a quiet failure."

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