Dave BrubeckBorn on 6 December 1920 in Concord, California, jazz legend Dave Brubeck is equally distinguished as composer and pianist. Studies at the College of the Pacific and with Milhaud at Mills College led to the founding, with fellow students, of the experimental Jazz Workshop Ensemble which recorded in 1949 as the Dave Brubeck Octet. Later, in 1958, the combination of Brubeck with drummer Joe Morello, double bassist Eugene Wright, and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond quickly achieved an overwhelming popular success as the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The Quartet's experimentation with time signatures unusual to jazz produced works like Blue Rondo a la Turk and Take Five, introducing millions of enthusiastic young listeners to unexplored regions of jazz. The group recorded and performed together continuously through 1967.
As composer, Brubeck has written and, in some cases, recorded several large-scale works including two ballets, a musical, an oratorio, four cantatas, a mass, works for jazz combo and orchestra, and many solo piano pieces. In the last 20 years, he has organized several new quartets and continued to appear at the Newport, Monterey, Concord, and Kool Jazz Festivals. Brubeck performed at the White House in 1964 and 1981 and at the 1988 Moscow summit honoring the Gorbachevs. He is the recipient of four honorary degrees, the BMI Jazz Pioneer Award, and the 1988 American Eagle Award presented by the National Music Council.
Gene KrupaGene Krupa was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 15, 1909 and was the the youngest of Bartley and Ann Krupa's nine children. His father died when Gene was very young and his mother worked as a milliner to support the family. All of the children had to start working while young, Gene at age eleven. His brother Pete worked at "Brown Music Company", and got Gene a job as chore boy. Gene started out playing sax in grade school but took up drums at age 11 since they were the cheapest item in the music store where he and his brother worked. "I used to look in their wholesale catalog for a musical instrument - piano, trombone, cornet - I didn't care what it was as long as it was an instrument. The cheapest item was the drums, 16 beans, I think, for a set of Japanese drums; a great high, wide bass drum, with a brass cymbal on it, a wood block and a snare drum."
His parents were very religious and had groomed Gene for the priesthood. He spent his grammar school days at various parochial schools and upon graduation went to St. Joseph's College for a brief year. Gene's drive to drum was too strong and he gave up the idea of becoming a priest. In 1921, while still in grammar school, Gene joined his first band "The Frivolians." He obtained the drumming seat as a fluke when the regular drummer was sick. The band played during summers in Madison, Wisconsin. Upon entering high school in 1923, Gene became buddies with the "Austin High Gang", which included many musicians which would be on Gene's first recording session; Jimmy McPartland, Jimmy Lannigan, Bud Freeman and Frank Teschemacher. In 1925, Gene began his percussion studies with Roy Knapp, Al Silverman & Ed Straight. Under advice from others, he decided to join the musicians union. "The guy said, 'Make a roll. That's it. Give us 50 bucks. You're In.'" Krupa started his first "legit" playing with Joe Kayser, Thelma Terry and the Benson Orchestra among other commercial bands. A popular hangout for musicians was "The Three Deuces." All of the guys playing in mickey mouse bands would gravitate here afterhours and jam till early in the morning. Gene was able to hone and develop his style playing with other jazz players such as Mezz Mezzrow, Tommy Dorsey, Bix Beiderbecke and Benny Goodman in these local dives. Krupa's big influences during this time were Tubby Hall and Zutty Singleton. The drummer who probably had the greatest influence on Gene in this period was the great Baby Dodds. Dodds' use of press rolls was highly reflected in Gene's playing, especially during his tenure with Benny Goodman.
Benny and Gene in 1937.