Sound Observations with Chris Brubeck of the Brubeck Brothers

Monday, March 7, 2011 9:50
Posted in category Interviews, Upcoming Shows

By David Moye

Certainly, if you want to get a band together, growing your own might be the best way to do it.

That’s how it worked for jazz legend Dave Brubeck, who not only has given birth to some great jazz in his own right, but some great jazz musicians in the form of sons Chris, Dan and Darius.

All three have performed on stage with their dad and Chris, who plays bass, and Dan, who plays drums, have kept the family tradition of playing together alive with their own group the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, which plays Anthology on Thursday, March 10.

“Dan and I grew up together, of course, but we’ve known Chuck Lamb, who plays piano, for more than 30 years and he’s played with guitarist Mike DeMicco that long,” Chris said during a recent interview from his home in Connecticut. “So while not everybody is an actual Brubeck brother, it feels like that at times.”

Brubeck Brothers

Brubeck Brothers

As for Darius, he lives out of the country.

“Having him fly 25 hours for a show is impractical,” Chris pointed out.

The friends and family connection are crucial to the band’s unique sound. In fact, the Brubeck Brothers are unique among jazz combos in that the make up is closer to a rock band.

“If you hear our concerts, you hear that we ARE a band, not just a bunch of great musicians who are playing together for a show or two,” he said. “People say they can tell we do things that can only come when you’re comfortable with musicians because you’ve played with them for years.”

In many bands, the bass is given to the guy who doesn’t have an instrument to play, but Chris knew from a very young age that was what he wanted to play.

“I remember when Dave’s first quartet would practice at our house and I would sit underneath the piano just listening to the bass,” he said. “I loved it immediately. I’d hit the bass and the sound would just fill my body.”

Over the years, Brubeck has thought a lot about what the bass player means to a band and it affects how he seems himself.

“I see the bass player as similar to the catcher in baseball. I’m calling the signals and keeping track of what is going on. Bass players aren’t out for glory. We’re holding down the fort.”

The other Brubeck brothers picked up other instruments and together Dan and Chris became a crack rhythm section. Smart because there is strength in numbers.

Since father Dave was a pioneer in adding polyrhythms and odd time signatures into jazz, it’s not surprising that Chris and Dan do that as easily as some folks breathe.

“That’s sort of our signature,” he said. “We can slip in and out of different time signatures very easily. People who play with us the first time say, ‘I heard about what you guys do, but now I understand.’

Take recently (as opposed to “Take Five,” which is his Dad’s most famous song).

“We were working on “Kathy’s Waltz,” one of Dave’s songs, and we did this ¾ waltz as a reggae tune,” Chris said. “Dad can’t play reggae, but Dan and I have fluidity to odd time signatures.”

And they also have an affinity to each other that comes from being brothers. In a good way, he promises.

“I promise, we’re not like the Black Crowes or the Kinks, getting in fights on stage,” he laughed.


WHAT: The Brubeck Brothers
WHEN: Thursday, March 10th, 2011 – 7:30pm
TICKETS: Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile