Jazz festival will pay tribute to Dave Brubeck

Sons of legendary musician among performers to take stage in Esther Short Park

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter


photo Bob James and David Sanborn will headline the Sunday finale of the Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival on Aug. 25 at Esther Short Park.


If you go

What: The 16th annual Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival.

When: 4–10 p.m. Aug. 23; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 24; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 25.

Where: Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth Street in downtown Vancouver.

Cost: $25 for Friday only, $30 for Saturday only, $30 for Sunday only.

Information: 360-906-0441 or visit Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival

Dave Brubeck's music will get some over-the-top treatment at this year's Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival in Esther Short Park.

Brubeck died on Dec. 5, 2012, of heart failure, one day before his 92nd birthday.

So part of the 16-year-old jazz festival, which runs Friday through Sunday, Aug. 23-25, will be an homage to the jazz icon, said Michael Kissinger, the event's founder and artistic director.

"The Brubeck Brothers Quartet is going to be here, and they're doing a tribute to their dad," Kissinger said. "As part of that, we'll also have a 90-voice choir that will sing with them, and a special appearance by guitarist Elvin Bishop, who will come on stage and join in."

Two of Brubeck's sons, Chris and Dan, play in the quartet with "honorary brothers" Mike DeMicco and Chuck Lamb. They recently released an album, "LifeTimes," which re-imagines some of the elder Brubeck's classic pieces, including "Take Five."

"We did that album last year, before my father died," Chris Brubeck said. "We just all really love Dave's music and the other ancillary lessons he taught us on the way. So we re-did and updated some of his music and it was very well received."

Brubeck's sons often played and composed with their father at various points in his life. Chris said he sometimes calls his father 'Dave' because when he started playing in bands with his dad, it was a better way to discuss the music, professional to professional.

"I didn't want to be like (in whiney fake teen voice) 'Dad, how should I play this bridge on "Take 5"?'" Chris Brubeck said with a laugh. "It was a way to address him as a colleague, just a fitting-in-with-the-guys thing."

The last time their father played with his sons was a Father's Day concert in 2011. The Brubeck family recorded at least a dozen albums together, and Chris and Dave Brubeck probably had a dozen more on top of that, since Chris was part of the band for many years, Chris Brubeck said.

"I was recently talking to Bob James and David Sanborn and learned that their new album ('Quartette Humaine') is a tribute to my father's music," Chris Brubeck said. "It was such an honor to talk to them and hear them talk about the impact that he had on them."

James and Sanborn, who released the album on May 21, 2013, are also playing at the Wine & Jazz Festival. They will headline the festival finale on Sunday from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet will play about an hour of Dave Brubeck's original songs, followed by some pieces from "To Hope! A Celebration," a Catholic mass written by Brubeck.

"As part of that, we'll have a combined mass choir from Seattle, Edmonds, Vancouver, Portland and a few other cities that will come onstage," Kissinger said. "It's going to be this mass jam session that's unique, different and massive, with international musicians and local singers."

There are also several Grammy award-winning or nominated artists coming to the four-day festival, which began Thursday with a free Jazz Education Night supporting music programs in local schools.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds will headline Friday night's concert lineup from 8:30 to 10 p.m.

Saturday will include the Brubeck Brothers Quartet performance from 4:30 to 6 p.m., along with performances by singer/pianist Marcia Ball and Bishop, both Grammy nominees, and 10-time Grammy winners Take 6 from 8:30 to 10 p.m.

Along with Grammy winners Sanborn and James, Sunday's headliners include Johnny A. and Grammy nominated pianist David Benoit.

The festival will also feature somewhere between 180 and 200 different types of wine made by about 50 wineries from all over the world. It includes four small Washington wineries, but none from Clark County.

"Maryhill Winery is probably the closest one to Clark County," Kissinger said, adding that no local wineries had applied to participate in the festival.

About 40 crafters from around the region, including some from Camas, Vancouver, La Center and Washougal, will have booths with a variety of artisan goods.

"It's a good mix," Kissinger said. "There's some fine art, painting, fiber art, blown glass, sculpture, jewelry. There are a lot of items to look at."

Last year, about 12,000 people attended the four-day festival, and Kissinger said he expects a similar turnout this year.

"We typically average between 10,000 and 15,000 people, depending on the year and the weather," he said.

Kissinger said he's looking forward to all the performances, but the Dave Brubeck extravaganza may be the thing he's most excited about.

"I think the audience will go nuts," Kissinger said. "It's unique. Who's going to see this again anywhere else in the world?"

Chris Brubeck said he hopes people enjoy the music as much as he does.

"Even though he's gone, it's still great to have Dad's music and have it as a way to bring musicians together," he said.