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February 12, 1986 - Image 7

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-02-12

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ARTS
Wednesday, February 12, 1986

The Michigan Daily
Jazz innovator
Dave Brubeck
gves his story

Page 7

Sound of Sun
Ra shines on

By Marc S. Taras

By Kelly Otter
M OST of us are probably too
young to remember when the
Dave Brubeck Quartet was the hottest
thing on the jazz scene. But although
other performers of the '50s and '60s
such as Elvis and Lawrence Welk
have long since drained from the
cistern of public demand, Brubeck's
music remains timeless.
In the jazz community Brubeck is
as respected today as much as ever.
The tune "Take Five," done in the
unusual meter of five beats per
measure, was the biggest hit of the
original quartet and is still a popular
standard. Brubeck is known for his
skill and has been successful due to
his devotion to music.
Naturally I was a little bit nervous
as I approached the celebrity for an
interview. But with a determined
countenance and a bold stride I con-
vinced myself that I was confident. I
<stepped up to room 1117 of the Campus
Inn and knocked lightly on the door. I
rehearsed my opening lines and fixed
a casual smile on my face, but when
the door suddenly opened, my throat
contracted. I can't remember now,
but somehow I verbalized my request
for an interview and soon found
myself sitting across from this legend
in mortal form, hastily scratching
down on notebook paper every
response he uttered to my questions.
It wasn't long before I was perfectly
at ease. Dave Brubeck is completely
unpretentious and even a little shy.
The years through which his career
has travelled show in the form of lines
on his face and dark circles under his
eyes. His posture was slightly
stooping and his hair was completely
white - he looks like a typical gran-
dfather. I was soon able to ignore his
fame and concentrate on the man.
Brubeck clearly remembers the
days before he was successful. "You
have to keep struggling," he said, "it
never gets any easier." The sixty-six-
year-old jazz pianist and composer
encourages young musicians to pur-
sue their craft, yet warns that it may
lead to disappointment. "I still fight
the same old battles to get published
and recorded. I can always find
people interested in my jazz projects,
but when it comes to anything else I
have as difficult a time as anyone fin-
ding a publisher."
After graduating from the College
of the Pacific, Brubeck continued his
piano studies with Darios Milhaud, a
classical French pianist and com-
poser. Milhaud instructed him in
music theory and piano technique, but
mainly encouraged him to pursue jazz
improvisation which he had begun
learning as a result of listening to jazz
pianists such as Art Tatum.
"Darius loved jazz," said Brubeck,
'Down' stays
tops in box
HOLLYWOOD (AP)--Down and Out
in Beverly Hills had its second rich
weekend in a row with a gross of $6.2
million, while top Oscar nominees The
Color Purple and Out of Africa saw
little benefit from the added prestige.
Down and Out, a zany comedy
about a bum joining a wealthy
household, now has grossed 13.8
million for Disney's Touchstone Films
in its two weeks of release. It had a
per-screen average of $7,490 on 816
screens. The movie will be shown on
more than 1,000 screens for the
President's Day three-day weekend.
The Paul Mazursky-directed film
features Nick Nolte as the bum and
Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler as
the Beverly Hills homeowners.
Down and Out was followed by The

Color Purple with $5.3 million, Mur-
phy's Romance with $3.6 million, and
Out of Africa moved up one notch to
fourth place with $3.5 million.
The Color Purple and Out of Africa
each had 11 Academy Award
nominations, and Purple was shown
on 548 more screens this week, while
Africa added 105. But while the
weekend gross for both increased, the
per-screen average for Purple drop-
ped from $7,521 last weekend. That
statistic remained nearly static for
Out of Africa with a $3,310 average
last weekend.

"He was the first classical composer
to use the jazz idiom." Milhaud incor-
porated jazz into his ballet Creation of
the World. Brubeck says his teacher
frequented jazz clubs in his leisure
time and "was very free in his
thinking about music."
Milhaud also proposed to Brubeck
that in order to express the American
culture in music it is necessary to
reflect the jazz idiom. "He felt thatj
the music of Gershwin, Copland, and
Ellington would live beyond the com-
posers because they used jazz,"
Brubeck said.
Brubeck's mentor also subscribed
to the theory that Bach's fugues and
tocattas were his form of im-
provisation and encouraged his
student to improvise in his own style.
"In general, if you play jazz," said
Brubeck, "you think like a Bach."
He continued to say that it's a
mistake to think of classical and jazz
as being at opposite ends of the
musical spectrum. "Don't make the
mistake of separating jazz too far
from classical," he said, "It's all a
total concept that's completely
mislabeled. Some jazz is more
classical than classical, and some
classical is more jazz than jazz."
Brubeck settled back into the cor-
ner of his wing-backed chair to get
comfortable before he explained his
idea. He said that the different
varieties of music are exhaustively
labeled and that there are really only
two categories of music. "All there is
is improvised music and invented
music," he said, "and all invented
music can be improvised on."
Brubeck's extraordinary ability to
improvise is born out of being able to
naturally hear harmonies as well as
intellectualize them. His mother, who
was a private piano teacher, began
teaching him music theory before he
could reach the piano. As he gained
proficiency he began emulating his
favorite jazz pianists without ever
having learned classical. "Although
they may never have played classical
music in their lives," said Brubeck,
"there are many Mozart-type brains
in jazz musicians."
Although Brubeck doesn't feel that
his basic style has changed over the
years, he does feel that his music has
grown. When two of his sons, Chris,
who played in a rock band with Mad-
cat Ruth while attending the Univer-
sity School of Music, and Darius
began playing with their father they
simply adapted to his style. The new
generation blendedhits advancements
with the tradition of its predecessor.
"Hopefully musicians are always
growing by listening," said Brubeck.
"A tree grows, but it's always the
same tree; your music grows, but it's
still you."
Brubeck's quartet performed
last Wednesday at the Power Cen-
ter with the Murray Louis Dance
Company with whom he has. been
touring the U. S. and Europe.

I T'S RARE when a concert is
everything that you had hoped and
expected. It's even stranger when it
is all that and more. Saturday
evening's Sun Ra performance at the
Mendelssohn Theatre was such a con-
cert. Even seasoned space voyagers
like myself were profoundly moved
and thrilled by Sun Ra and his 15 piece
all-star Arkestra. What they offered
their rapt standing-room-only audien-
ce was something akin to an overview
of the entire history of transafrican
social music.
The Ra appeared dressed in leopard
robes and a fur hat during the first
set. His sparse beard was strangely
tinted a fiery red. With his dark
glasses his image as a hip guru from
Saturn-by-way-of-Chicago was com-
plete. The beautiful and dynamic
vocalist June Tyson joined the Ra in
a series of inspirational sing-along-
chants that engaged the audience.
Ra is religion. "The sun shines on the
righteous/the sun shines on the
wicked/the sun shines on everyone/
we are all children of the sun." I was
moved to tears.
Highlights of the first set were
many and varied, Sun Ra offering an
outrageous supersonic rocketship of a
solo on synthesizer. Then the wonder-
ful old geez sits down at the piano and
rolls off a standard so sweet that the
contrast of styles is stunning. Con-
trasts. This is one of the key
ingredients of a Sun Ra performance.
From spacey orchestral visions of the
sort my friend Kate refers to as 'tem-
pertantrum jazz' to the tender beauty
of a standard. Ra again, offering a
lovely reading of Harold Arlen's
"'Over the Rainbow."

Then there was tenor saxophone
giant John Gilmore. Looking like a
Nubian prince, Gilmore blew an in-
tense solo utilizing the upper register
of the horn. Sound was careening
around the room, reverberating, and
creating piercing overtones not for
the timid or weak-hearted. His pai-
tner Marshall Allen was featured
primarily on alto sax. Marshall is a
curious little pixie who blows from the
inside out. A player capable ,of
frightening trills and overblowing, his
featured solo encapsulated the history
of the alto from the warm lyricism of
Johnny Hodges to the frenetic joy of
Anthony Braxton. Allen was the stan-
dout performer of the evening in a
band full of outstanding musicians.
Tenor saxophonist Ronald Wilson
was afforded the most solo time and
he used it well. His herculean efforts
during innumberable solo choruses of
Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife" were
easily worth the price of admission.
There was Gilmore playing lounge
lizard in a vocal rendition of "East of
the Sun, West of the Moon, (Dear!"
and Danny Thompson's darkly
humourous vocals on "Mack the
Knife".
Other highlights included
the appearance of several
unexpected jazz legends.
On hand for what amounted to an
Arkestra birthday party were several
old timers from Arkestras of 30 years
ago. Phil Kohran appeared on tru'n-
pet, lighting a fire in the brass section.
The amazing Johnny Ore was on hand
to play acoustic bass with a strength I
have rarely heard. Johnny's history
goes way back to his classic recor-
dings with Thelonious Monk in the
'50s.
We were a happy bun-
ch. If you missed the show--go out and
buy a Sun Ra record--it'll make you
happy, too.

Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck says jazz and classical music aren't as far
apart as many people seem to think.
Thvn]eatre offers change

By Noelle Brower
A FTER spending nearly two
years in a Residence Hall, I
thought I would never want to
return, but now there just might be
cause enough to change my mind.
There is a new theatre group on
campus, The Residence Hall Reper-
tory Theatre, begun with Freshmen
and Sophomores in mind.
The brainchild behind the troupe
is Scott Weisman, a Resident Direc-
tor at Markley. Weisman saw an
opportuity to combine his two in-
terests, theatre and education, while
at the same time fulfilling a need of
the residents.
"I am interested in theatre as a
means of bringing about change, as
an educational tool, to teach in
provocative and invocative ways,
not just a theatre for an elite few
who can afford it," said Weisman.
Instead, he and his troupe brain-
storm for ideas for skits to perform
about various issues that would be
pertinent to dorm residents. "As a
R.D. I began to think about ways to
fuse important issues together
within an entertaining framework.
With this idea in mind, Weisman
approached Housing last year to
propose what has since become The
Residence Hall Repertory Theatre.
The troupe performs every Wed-
nesday evening in a different
Residence Hall. Last week they
presented their show entitled
Masks: A Show on Sex Roles and
Stereotypes, in East Quad.
Even before the show began the
residents were made to feel the
steretvnes: males and females had
to enter from two separate doors,

and once in the room they were fur-
ther divided by a rope sectioning off
the sexes,
The troupe then entered accor-
dingly; men from one side and
women from the other. They faced
each other silently for a few momen-
ts, then slowly began to move their
arms, each side acting as a mirror
image for the other. Then Madon-
na's "Material Girl" blasted the
silence and the two groups retreated
to their respective corners, as
though they were preparing for a
sparring match. Through humorous
little skits, they established the
commonly held stereotypes of men
and women. These skits, which the
audience obviously identified with
were excellent, engaging warm-ups
for what was to come. They also
immediately established an under-
standing bond between the audience
and the performers.
The R.H.R.T. will premeire their
new show on Racism and
Discrimination tonight at South
Quad. Performance will begin at 10
p.m.
STRICTLY
ORIGINAL
Songwriters Expo
Thursday, Feb. 13
1986
in the U Club
9:30p.m.
,T f *

/+

Whait are you
going to do with
your life?
Get a job in
ADVERTISING with

UOb fitgun lDuthI
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Call 764-0662 and ask for Cindy.

University Activities Center
Executive Board Applications

-President
-Vice Pres. of Finance
-Vice Pres. of
Human Resources

-Vice Pres of Programming
and Development
-Vice Pres. of Promotion
-Vice Pres. of Publicity

The University Activities Center's Impact Jazz
offers free dance workshops every Wednesday
night from 7:00 - 8:30 in the Michigan Union Ball-
room. For more info call 763-1107.

Applications available at the UAC offices, 2nd floor Michigan Union
Return by 5p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13
Interviews to be held Tues., Feb. 18. Sign up
for time. For more info, call 763-1107
~~ Thrgn ?uren mIaxp

It's your Union,
The Michigan Union Board of Representatives
will soon be filling its 9 student positions.
MUBR is an advisory board for the Michigan Union composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni.
MUBR offers:
leadership experience;
a direct working relationship with faculty, staff, and alumni;
practical experience in policy setting, public relations, fundraising, and long range planning;
an opportunity to develop an understanding of,
and rapport with, a wide variety of individuals and groups.
Apolications and more information are available February 12-21

GIVE HER A
VALENTINE'S GIFT
AS DELICATE AS HER:
" Robes & Sleepwear
" Imported Blouses
" Handkerchiefs

::Y'.
Frs,,." .

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