CRUISIN’ THE MUSES: Brubeck took more than five in Carson, before fame, to marry
December 7, 2012
Long before his “Take Five” fame, legendary musician Dave Brubeck, who died this week, took more than five minutes — but probably not much more than that — to tie the knot in Carson City.The jazz pianist and composer married his sweetheart Lola on Sept. 21, 1942, while on a three-day pass from the Army. They had little time to spare, with just a day for their honeymoon before Brubeck, a private, had to return to his post near Los Angeles.Brubeck served under General Patton in Europe during World War II, seeing action but also becoming a band leader in Patton’s Third Army. He broke down racial barriers with an integrated band at a time when Army units weren’t integrated.Born east of San Francisco and raised on a ranch near Ione, Calif., in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada range, Brubeck over the years played a number of gigs in Reno.“I saw him play in Reno,” said David Bugli, leader of both the Mile High Jazz Band in Carson City and the Carson City Symphony Orchestra. “I used to love listening to his music and playing it.” Bugli said Brubeck was innovative, using dense chords and odd-metered pieces to entertain audiences. He added that Brubeck actually considered himself more of a composer than a pianist.He also brought up a little-known fact: The famous Dave Brubeck Quartet piece called “Take Five,” which was on the marvelous “Time Out” LP record, actually was written not by Brubeck but by Paul Desmond, alto saxophonist and composer, a member of the quartet and one of Brubeck’s old Army buddies. Desmond, reputed to be a high-life kind of guy, died in 1977.“Take Five” doesn’t refer to five minutes. It is said to refer to the odd 5/4 time in which the jazz piece is played. It became the signature tune for the group and was identified with Brubeck because he was the leader who fronted the outfit and whose name was branded into public consciousness.The piece, first played in 1959, was re-recorded and played live countless times by the quartet. It was covered by many other groups, including a Virginia-based outfit called No Strings Attached that bills itself as “just another hammered dulcimer band.”Brubeck, just shy of 92 when he died Wednesday, came by his musical chops from his maternal side. His father was a rancher and a champion rodeo roper and his mother was a classical pianist. • John Barrette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-881-1213.