An Appreciation: Dave Brubeck

Michael Lang has been a busy member of the Los Angeles musicians’ community for most of his adult life.  He’s been an accompanist for performers reaching from Ella Fitzgerald to John Lennon.  He’s recorded more than 2000 film scores And he’s written songs for Stan Getz, Fourplay, Herb Alpert and numerous others. 

 By Mike Lang

Dave Brubeck: One of the most unique artists in jazz.

That’s the first thing that popped into my head upon hearing of his passing.  I’d like to improvise some random thoughts.

I discovered Dave’s music on a solo piano LP he did for Columbia, Brubeck Plays Brubeck (1956) which my parents gave me.  It made a singularly musical impression on me, and I especially liked “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke,” which were recorded in Miles Davis’ first collaboration with Gil Evans, Miles Ahead (1956), which was another large experience for me.

I was just reading about Dave’s solo album, only to find that all but two of his pieces were created on-the-spot at the sessions.  “In Your Own Sweet Way” is one of these, and I cannot think of a better song, in terms of the quality of the melody, harmony and the form of the piece.  Absolutely extraordinary that it was born at the recording session.

All Brubeck-ites probably know the basic stuff of his music:  How he had this singular success with “Take Five” (composed by Paul Desmond), and so many of the amazing things that followed…. his long history with the Quartet, his forays into classical music, ballet, choral music, working with his talented sons, etc.

I would like to say personally that his talent for reaching and affecting so many with the special character his music and the persona of his performances opened the doors of jazz for so many… and therefore gave all performers more access to share their music.

He was also especially modest and generous.  With regard to being on the cover of Time Magazine, he responded (in London 1998), “I wanted Duke Ellington to have the cover before me”

Dave gave so much, with a very big heart! And people responded all over the world for decades.

Thank You So Much, Dave!



Mike Lang


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