Oct. 17, 2009 performance reviewed by Dave Read.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded the first million-selling jazz album fifty years ago, Time Out, which features Take Five and its unusual 5/4 time signature, and with Mr.Brubeck approaching his 89th birthday, which he’ll celebrate Dec. 6th at the White House while receiving the 2009 Kennedy Center honors, time has prominence in any Brubeck report. Now, and for a long time to come, hundreds of people will be remembering the time they heard the Dave Brubeck Quartet in a sold-out concert at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, including 18 kids who can tell about the time Dave Brubeck sat in with them on “Take the A Train.”
The concert began with a teriffic set of mostly Duke Ellington compostions played by the Berkshires Youth Jazz Ensemble, 17 Berkshire county high schoolers and one Simon’s Rock student. Assembling a student jazz band and giving them the opportunity to perform with jazz masters is a primary function of BerkshiresJazz.org, producers of the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival. The ensemble featured half a dozen wonderful soloists, and at least one double-threat, Jacqueline Doucette of Pittsfield HS, who stepped out from the sax section to sing two songs with more grace and verve than you’d think was available to a teenager.
Youth Ensemble music director Ron Lively of PHS told the audience that he put together the mostly Ellington set because the Duke had been mentor to Dave, and so the number chosen to link the learners to the legend was Take the A Train, with PHS pianist Samuel Landes and Brubeck taking turns at the piano, an 1894 Hamburg Steinway Concert Grand, which this concert’s underwriter, Jim Chervenak, gave to the Colonial in memory of his wife Françoise Nunnallé.