Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Memory of Brubeck

I described one of my Greatest Dates previously, but I am reminded of another on the day the news breaks that Jazz Immortal Dave Brubeck passes.

It was 1998 and I was a datin' fool.  Perhaps the reason I can't elevate this night to the Greatest Date ever is because I can't remember my companion's name.  But she was a pretty attorney from across the table who at some point during a gravely inconsequential litigation commented to me that she was a classically trained concert pianist.  One deposition turned into three and the timing became right for me to ask her to see Dave Brubeck and his sons when they came to play at the Blaisdell Concert Hall here in Honolulu.  She leapt at the opportunity, probably more for the performance than for the companionship, but in the end ... well I'll show you rather than tell you.

It was a wonderful night that started with drinks at a nearby saloon to loosen us up.  Fortunately, we had tested the waters with a pre-date and we knew that nothing awkward would ruin our intended night of listening to Mr. Brubeck's odd time signatures.  (I think the previous week, we had Thai food and saw "Titanic").  As we were standing in the lobby waiting to enter the concert hall, I spotted an old friend scurrying around, and I quickly remembered he was in the entertainment business, so I hailed him over.  Understand, I never miss an opportunity to show a romantic interest that I am Kind of a Big Deal.  Sure enough, he was involved behind the scenes in the production.

So my pal comes over, we chit chat and I introduce my date.  He gives her the approving once over and we finish up with more small talk and then proceed to our seats.  She is pleased to find that I haven't gone cheap.  Our view is spectacular, eight or nine rows back and just off center.  When the time comes, we'll be able to see Mr. Brubeck's fingers.

The lights dim and Brubeck leads his sons out and they take their places.  They are dressed timelessly in white jackets and black bow ties.  My date and I share the intimacy of beautiful music, and at one point I lean over and confess to not understanding the time signatures.  As a self-trained rock drummer (really, I am), I am unaccustomed to counting to anything beyond four, four times.  So she leans over and places her ten fingers on my thigh and, with her fingers and whispers, counts fives and sixes, for a few bars as the Brubecks are playing.

So the intermission comes and we decide to keep our seats and continue our music-oriented conversation.  We are busy impressing each other with our knowledge when my pal suddenly appears.  He slides in one row in front of us and says he's been looking for us.

He looks at my date and says, "How'd you like to present Mr. Brubeck with a lei onstage before the encore?"

"Would I?"

As the final piece of the set started, my pal came and got us and led us backstage, my date pulling me excitedly by my hand, me trying to act as if I had made all of this happen, feeling like Kind of a Big Deal.

And that is how we found ourselves standing not 20 feet from Dave Brubeck's piano as he played his iconic Take Five, with a luxuriant green maile lei draped around his neck and falling to the floor.


M.Lane said...

What a great night that was! I loved his last couple of albums but they were all great. I'll miss him.


Ben said...

And so will I.