About the Work
BRUBECK pays tribute to the music of American jazz icon Dave Brubeck. The work highlights several of Brubeck’s classic recordings that epitomize his career long experimentation with unusual time signatures, and his brilliant partnership with saxophonist Paul Desmond. GroundWorks is sent into wonderful motion and commotion around the infectious melodies and dynamic rhythms of one of jazz’s most enduring artists.
Commissioned in 2012 with the generous support of Mary Lou Stricklin and Jim Branagan to GroundWorks NewWorks Fund, and with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Cleveland Foundation and the Kulas Foundation, this work is created in memory and honor of Jim Branagan’s friendship and love of music.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Dave Brubeck. I first heard his breakthrough recording ‘Time Out’ when I was a teenager and have carried some of the hits from that album in my head ever since,” says Shimotakahara. “Brubeck has composed scores of jazz standards, and yet I know people who know the melodies of Take Five and Blue Rondo a la Turk by heart, but still don’t know it’s Dave Brubeck.”
BRUBECK is for five dancers and is set to seven selections of music from “Time Out” and “Time Further Out,” recordings by the Dave Brubeck Quartet made in 1959 and 1961 respectively – featuring Dave Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on saxophone, Eugene Wright on bass, and Joe Morello on drums.
For Shimotakahara, this period of Brubeck’s music reflects a time of great confidence and optimism. “I wanted to pay tribute to this music and reiterate its timeless appeal for all generations,” he says.
“I also wanted to challenge the skills and agility of the dancers with the facility and brilliance of the musicians on these classic recordings,” he continues. “In addition to the many variations and changes in rhythm, the tempos are quick and the music is tightly arranged, and yet there is an ease and elegance to the playing. The dancers really have their work cut out, but I know they are up for it.”