When the Dave Brubeck Quartet released Jazz Goes to College in 1954, no one knew how prophetic or pleasantly ironic the title was. The album, recorded live on a tour of college campuses, would put the pianist and composer on the cover of Time magazine and become his most successful record until the landmark release Time Out in 1959.
Since then, jazz and Brubeck have gone to college in other significant ways.
Jazz is taught at institutions across the country, with one of the more prestigious programs residing in Stockton at the University of the Pacific, where Brubeck and his wife, Iola, founded the Brubeck Institute at their alma mater in 2000.
This year, the 13th Brubeck Festival, which runs Wednesday through Saturday in Stockton, extends its reach with an East Coast Brubeck Festival component recognizing the Brubeck legacy at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, April 7-13.
While both festivals celebrate the music and life of Brubeck, who died Dec. 5, 2012 one day shy of his 92nd birthday they will also be dedicated to Iola, who died March 12 at the age of 90 at their longtime home in Wilton, Conn.
Simon Rowe, the Brubeck Institutes executive director, said the festival serves as a microcosm of the institutes mission and objectives, which are much more than teaching students how to solo over modal chord progressions (which they also do).
The three areas we concentrate in are community engagement, education and acting as a catalyst for social change, Rowe said. The festival ticks all those boxes.
The festivals headline events include concerts by Latin jazz pianist Eddie Palmieri (Thursday), vocalist Al Jarreau (Friday) and mainstream drummer Terri Lyne Carrington (Saturday). The artists represent a wide swath of jazz-based music, which Rowe said was an intentional decision.
Were very much trying to connect with all the different groups within our broader Central Valley community, Rowe said. We hope, for example, Eddie Palmieri will bring folks from the Latino community. Hes one of the great heroes of Latin jazz in this country.
Jarreau, who is on the institutes honorary board, reached out to Rowe about performing there.
Al is one of those cross-genre, world-class artists, who also happens to have had an active association with Dave Brubeck, Rowe said. So its not just another tour date for Al Jarreau by any means.
Jarreau won a 1982 Grammy award for best jazz vocal performance for his recording of Brubecks Blue Rondo à la Turk, and the singer often performs Take Five.
Composed by Paul Desmond, Take Five was originally recorded by the Brubeck Quartet on Time Out, and it became the biggest-selling jazz single of all time. Blue Rondo à la Turk, the B side of that single, has become a jazz standard as well.
Drummer Carrington brings her Mosaic project band to the festival Saturday. She won a Grammy for best jazz vocal album for the record, which features all female musicians. The band scheduled to play Stockton includes trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, pianist Helen Sung, alto saxophonist Tia Fuller and vocalists Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright.
Her band is star-studded and full of very, very prominent female musicians, which is a wonderful salute to the diversity of our community, Rowe said. With Dianne Reeves, who is a headliner in her right, its a bit of a two-for-one and were very excited about that.
Late-night concerts and jam sessions with the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quartet, the Pacific Jazz Ensemble, the Simon Rowe Latin Project and others will also play a part in the festival, beginning at 10 p.m. at Take Five Jazz, the Brubeck Institute-sponsored jazz club in Stockton (157 West Adams St., Stockton).
Rowe spent significant time with Iola Brubeck after he came to the institute in 2011, and her impact and influence can not underestimated, he said. She managed her husbands career, and it was her idea to undertake the early college-campus tours that pushed the Brubeck Quartet into the public consciousness.
What I loved was how personally involved Iola has been with the institute, because when I came on board Dave was fairly fragile, Rowe said. Iola was involved with every decision, and she was wonderful in orienting me (in) the history of the institute and giving me a sense what she thought our opportunities were.
Though Brubecks musical importance was certainly recognized in his lifetime, the estimation of his life and career has grown since his death, given what he accomplished in the areas of civil rights and social justice.
Brubecks classic quartet was an integrated band with the African American bassist Eugene Wright, and Brubeck was regularly refused bookings for segregated audiences. Brubeck notably said he was embarrassed when he made the cover of Time magazine instead of Duke Ellington, whom he considered the greater musician (and told Duke so).
If you look back at some of the iconic figures who helped shape post-WWII, modern, Western culture, Dave was very much right at that nexus point, Rowe said. I think the respect for him and admiration for him runs way beyond the fact that he was a great jazz musician and wonderful composer; hes one of those artists who was able to be a catalyst in matters far beyond the arts and music.
Call The Bees Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.