Dan Brubeck performs in Sudden Valley in memory of his parents


Dan Brubeck, Sudden Valley Jazz Series

Dan Brubeck, son of the legendary pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, will play with a quartet in a concert of songs written by his father and with lyrics by his mother, poet Iola Brubeck, at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 7, 2014 at the Sudden Valley Dance Barn, 8 Barnview Court (gate 2).


When I heard that K.C. Sulkin, organizer of the Jazz Series in Sudden Valley to support the South Whatcom Library, had booked the son of "Take Five" composer Dave Brubeck, how could I not resist the opportunity to interview drummer Dan Brubeck?

Dan is the fourth son of the renowned pianist and composer, who died in 2012.

I reached him by phone a couple of weeks ago. He's still dealing with the death of his mother, Iola, who died in March and was a poet in her own right. It's in her memory and his dad's that inspired the program that guests will hear at the concert Saturday, June 7, at the Sudden Valley Dance Barn.

Like many drummers, Dan admits he played on pots and pans as a toddler.

"I always knew I really liked drums," he says.

He was fortunate to grow up in a world surrounded by art and music. Saxophonist Paul Desmond, drummer Joe Morello and bass player Eugene Wright were among the musicians who frequented his childhood home.

Dan says that although his father is known primarily for his jazz works, he also composed classical cantatas and masses and was influenced in great part by issues of civil rights and religion.

His father also collaborated with composer Leonard Bernstein, mixing jazz and classical traditions in "Bernstein Plays Brubeck."

One of the songs he wrote, "They Say I Look Like God," was sung by Louis Armstrong in the 1962 musical piece, "The Real Ambassadors," performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, narrated by Dan's mom and played by his father's band.

Wynton Marsalis, artistic director at New York's Lincoln Center, restaged and performed the work in April as part of the Dave Brubeck Festival.

"Dad was really trying to understand the race issue," Dan says, and saw the essence of religion played out through music.

"It hit me when I saw this performed live," says Dan, because his father firmly believed "we're all children of God" and wanted to set up a "sacred environment," a safe life for his family and friends.

For Saturday's concert, Dan will be accompanied by Mike Allen on saxophone, Adam Thomas on bass and vocals and Tony Foster on piano.


Bellingham author Bob Wright came by the newsroom for a chat and to deliver a copy of his new book "Valhalla Revealed," set between 1945 and 1979.

Wright's first book, "Beyond Ultra," covers the period 1915 to 1945. Both are family sagas describing two winemaking families, one in Germany and the other in Spain.

Wright says he has always been interested in history and "speculated on who the real movers and shakers were behind the scenes."

Historical fiction provides the perfect medium for telling such stories, he says.

"I pretty much stick to real historical events, true characters, and people in lesser-known settings during the 20th century," he says. "I then add fictional characters to build dramatic tension with believable plots."

Wright and his wife, Marcia, moved to Bellingham in 2005, after they retired from their executive positions with the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C. He says he still does some aviation safety consulting, but his heart is mostly in writing now.

On Friday, June 6, during the Downtown Art Walk, he will present his newest novel at Vinostrology Wine Lounge, along with Spanish wine tasting by Casa Ventura Imports and music by classical guitarist Jacqui Meaker.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, Wright will discuss his book at Village Books.

Behind the Scenes focuses on the people who make the arts and entertainment world of Whatcom County happen. It appears in Take Five, The Bellingham Herald's entertainment section, each Thursday. Margaret Bikman is the Entertainment News Coordinator at The Bellingham Herald. Contact her at margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2273.


-- Dan Brubeck Quartet: 3 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at Sudden Valley Dance Barn, 8 Barnview Court (gate 2). Tickets: $20, available at suddenvalleylibrary.org or by calling K.C. Sulkin, 360-671-1709.

-- "An Evening in Spain:" 6 p.m. Friday, June 6, at Vinostrology Wine Lounge & Merchant, 120 W. Holly St. More on Bob Wright at robert-wright-books.com.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com.

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