Remembering Dave Brubeck

December 6th, 2012

I‘ve been a Dave Brubeck fan for more than 50 years. Although I knew him only through his concerts and recordings, the news of his death yesterday struck me like the loss of a dear, old friend.

Album Cover: Jazz: Red Hot and Cool
Photo Credit: Richard Avedon

I had an uncle—an ardent Jazz fan—who always seemed to have a new recording with him each time he visited. By the time I first heard Dave Brubeck in 1954 or ’55, I was already familiar with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and the rest of the mostly black, New York-based, Hard Bop Jazz players. Even though I was only eight years old, I had, thanks to my uncle, developed a good basis for comparison of their different styles.

Dave Brubeck was considered to be a “West Coast” musician: a member of the “Cool School” of Jazz. And indeed, his music—particularly with Paul Desmond on alto saxophone—lacked the edge and drive that typified the “East Coast” be-bop of the day. But he and his quartet played with élan, facility, brilliant contrapuntal improvisation, and previously unheard harmonies.

My very first Dave Brubeck album was Jazz—Red Hot and Cool. Recorded live in New York City at a nightclub called Basin Street East, it captivated me.

The album included a number of tunes considered to be part of “The Great American Songbook.” Brought up-to-date with Brubeck’s unique sense of harmony and Paul Desmond’s wonderful lyricism, their arrangements swirled above the ambient nightclub clinking of cocktail glasses.

Red Hot and Cool Lipstick Advertisement
Photo Credit: Richard Avedon

Beyond the music, that album, whose cover featured Fifties supermodel Suzy Parker and Brubeck in a nightclub, eptomized for me the coolness of Jazz. Richard Avedon—one of the premier fashion photographers of the 20th century—clicked the shutter at the hungry i, then the hippest of San Francisco’s nightspots. What many Brubeck fans have forgotten is that both Helena Rubinstein cosmetics and Columbia Records shared the same Avedon photo for their joint promotion of both the record album and Jazz, a new lipstick and nail polish color launched by Mme.Rubenstein. That interesting cross-disciplinary use of art predated Mad Men by several decades.

But my most powerful recollection is a simple four-bar modulation in the last chorus of George Gershwin’s Love Walked In. As a child, I had yet to acquire the vocabulary to describe what I heard, but all these years and an undergraduate degree in music theory and harmony later, I can easily retrofit the experience.

With twelve bars left in the tune, the group spontaneously modulated, or changed, the key of the tune, up a whole step for four measures of the final phrase before returning to the original key for the last eight measures. I had never heard anything like it and couldn’t understand it, but I felt completely drawn into the music. I have been similarly amazed by Dave Brubeck countless times since.

While I mourn his passing, I can console myself with some wonderful musical discoveries and memories, and continue to enjoy the great legacy he’s left behind. Rest in peace.


The one and only Spam


Could it be a cyber-indicator that the holidays are upon us? With the economy so shaky, we suspect some under-employed computer hackers may be shopping themselves out as evil elves. Recently we’ve noticed a significant increase in spam messages among the legitimate comments on our three blogs. While the volume of spam hasn’t seriously disrupted our day-to-day operations, like those hard plastic bubble packages enclosing techie accessories, it’s a nuisance.

We’re glad that we chose WordPress as our “blogging platform” because it has a feature that spares you, our readers, this detritus. In order to comment on any WordPress blog posts, the commenter and his comment require our approval.

A sampling of actual comments we’ve received (but did not approve) appears below. We are publishing them to illustrate a shady form of social networking + internet marketing + search-engine optimization. With apologies to our longtime readers, today’s article is for new ones who’d like to join you. Think of this as an an intro-level course. During Blog Participation 101, we’ll show you how to do it right.

When you comment on someone else’s blog, you can sign off and leave a link to your own Web site. Later, when the Google robot comes around, it will note that your own Web site (URL) has been mentioned on someone else’s. The more external “sightings” of your URL, the higher the placement you’ll achieve in future Google searches. For example, this is what happens when (as we weigh in on a blog where someone is discussing Sicilian pasta shapes.

But if you’re hustling male enhancement drugs or your “comment” is no more than a thinly veiled invitation to your online, offshore Ph.D. mill in Bermuda. you’re not going to “advertise” with us.

We’ve withdrawn from the cacophony of Facebook and Twitter, and thus we particularly appreciate our readers’ thoughtful commentary, to which we always respond. Our writing has earned us friends around the world and we do indeed try to make our blogs into “conversations.”

We’re delighted to hear your theories about Chicken Vesuvio or Fried Ravioli. By all means, please share your nonna’s recipe for googootz. Tell us which pushcart peddles the best Italian Beef Sandwich in Chicago. But when you greet us with vague praise, telling us we’ve made our point brilliantly and that you can’t wait to add our blog to your RSS Feed…we know you’re jive. You won’t get a seat at the tavola. No Sunday Gravy for you!

Below are the sorts of unapproved “comments” that have been clogging our spam filters. Avoid these as you would canned spaghetti (Our responses, in bold type, were not published).


This blog could be better using Links Shortener.

And you’d like us to place a LINK to your product on our blog, wouldn’t you? Fuggeddabboudit.


I have bookmarked this blog simply because I found it notable. I would be quite interested to know more information on this. Thanks a lot!

More info on scungilli? Cudduruni? Ligurian dialect? Be specific, please!


I cling on to listening to the newscast speak about receiving boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the top site to get one. Could you tell me please, where could i get some?

And we have a winning Lotto Italiano number we’d love to share with you.


There is perceptibly a lot to know about this. I think you made certain good points in features also.

Your voice is familiar. I think I called you for software support a few months ago.


Sitemiz di? beyazlatma,ortodonti,?ocuk di?,?ocuk di? hekimli?i,pedodonti,implant,zirkonyum,estetik di? hekimli?i,kanal tedavisi,protez,protez di? bilgilerini i?ermektedir.

Kendim babam dis hekimdir ve turkce okuyorum. (Translation: My dad is a dentist and I read Turkish)

NOTE: Unbelievable as this seems, it is A REAL SPAM EXAMPLE, that came to from a Turkish site that offers dental services, including tooth whitening, orthodontia, and laser treatments. It just so happens that one of us is a dentist’s daughter who speaks Turkish…


Keep doing work, good position!

Earn $28,000 per week with your own home-based business! No experience necessary.


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Dude—you read. That’s cool.


Pc’s help for us to edit inside a non-linear vogue, tweak our online video in submit creation, and add exclusive results and music as necessary. Considering not all computer systems are developed equally, studying your alternatives will make sure you identify the top desktop computer to match all of one’s video clip modifying desires. Computer systems have grown to be an nearly indispensable device for grown ups. From writing letters to obtaining facts around the Web, people depend on laptops in several techniques everyday. Desktops of all sizes have gotten scaled-down and scaled-down. This can be particularly real for laptop computer computer units.

We certainly agree that non-linear vogue and tweaking can clip modifying desires. Good luck and thanks for stopping by! Your friend, Skip

(We didn’t know that James Joyce did technical writing…)

Your comments?

Holy Multiple Listing Service! St Joseph is the Ultimate Real Estate Agent.

March 19th has long been marked on Christian calendars as the Feast of St. Joseph.

Statue of Saint Joseph

It’s hardly surprising that Joseph, the carpenter-father figure in the Holy Family is the patron saint of carpenters and those who work with wood. (These days, he’s probably watching over the non-union work force at Home Depot, too.) Besides his association with the building trades, Joseph is also credited with some Renaissance miracles involving the Church’s acquistion of land.

And indeed, in recent years, we’ve known people who venerated the saint for his rumored ability to move real property; popular lore has it that images of the saint must be buried on the subject property. St. Joseph medals favored centuries ago have given way to little statues—interred in back yards or (in the case of condo apartments) efficaciously tucked into potted plants

Much to our amazement, we’ve found entire websites, complete with Twitteresque testimonials, extolling the realty marketing powers of St. Joseph. At first we thought that remodeling icon Bob Vila had finally been canonized and was now authorized to wear a halo. But no, it was just St Joseph (who probably never had to work with toxic sheet rock or pull a building permit).

“The best real estate agent ever…” proclaims one happy seller.

Another is ecstatic that St. Joseph got her $5K over her asking price.

Presumably these people benefited from all the components of the $10.99 Saint Joseph Home Sellers Kit, which includes:

• One painted 4″ St. Joseph statue
• Color Prayer Card
• Burial Instructions (presumably for the statue)

There’s also a $7.99 Kit (sans prayer card).

In this market, many of us need all the help we can get, so it’s worth noting that the same vendor also offers a statuette of St. Jude (whose bailiwick is Lost Causes…) Think about it: for the price of a couple of FSBO signs, you can have higher powers on your sales team.

It really is time for the saints to come marching in….

And if your heritage (or heart) is Italian you’ll also want to see today’s post on our food and culture blog about the Festival of San Giuseppe. It turns out that St. Joseph is so successful, he can get away with merely moonlighting as a Realtor. As San Giuseppe, he fulfills a very different role…

Sarasota Orchid Show, 2012

January 8th, 2010
Kovachii Orchid
Kovachii Orchid
Illustration by Stig Dalstrom*

With many of Sarasota’s nicer flowering shrubs and annuals tented in everything from garbage bags to bed-sheets, residential landscapes look rather peculiar this week, as if Halloween has been moved to January. Recent, freezing night-time temps have posed a serious threat to food crops and subtropical ornamentals, so it was a a veritable benediction from the weather gods that exhibitors had a mild and drizzly Friday on which to set up their orchid displays at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium.The show and sale promises this weekend’s attendees a dazzling tropical respite from the cold.

We’re posting just a few sneak previews of the exhibits. Please click the link at the bottom of the page to see an online album—additional shots of some especially dramatic blooms.

What: 55th Annual Sarasota Orchid Society Exhibit & Sale.

When: Saturday, January 7th & Sunday January 8th.
Hours: Saturday, 11:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m. Sunday, 9:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.

Admission: Open to the public $5 admission; children under 8 are admitted free. Free parking.

Where: Municipal Auditorium in downtown Sarasota, Florida. This is a wonderful Art Moderne building on Sarasota’s Bayfront.

Learn about orchids and see rare, seductive specimens of these fabulous flowers.

Join educators, growers, illustrators, and vendors of plants, seeds, and everything orchids and their owners could ever want.

*Former orchid curator at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and world-renowned botanical illustrator Stig Dalstrom will be exhibiting his botanical prints. His booth will have information about his April 2010 Botanical Tour to Turkey ,an exciting adventure in the wild regions along Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean shores, which are rich in terrestrial orchid species.

Click this link to see more orchid photos