Thank You Dave Brubeck, Jazz Pianist Legend
My Parlor Size Grand Piano
The Day Dave Brubeck Came To My Home
Sometimes, life throws us a wonderful, endearing surpise - almost like a reward for overcoming unimaginable obstacles. I found my surprise standing at my front door, all 6'2" of him, dressed in light denim coveralls. His kind blue eyes connected with mine and then he smiled and said "Hello, Audrey - I'm Dave Bruebeck and I understand you have a Steinway Piano. . . an L Model."
There were only two "L's" on the entire island. Dave chose mine to complete his "Jazz Mass" composition to be performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Glory Be and Halleluja! I could barely believe my good fortune.
My mind flashed back to 1976 and the day I walked into a Beverly Hills, California Steinway Piano Showroom. It was three stories high and packed with the most beautiful grand pianos I had ever seen and I was in piano heaven. After hours of trying out one Steinway, then another, I purchased my very own magnificent parlor-grand piano.
"You've come a along way baby", I proudly said to myself. I started my piano lessons by learning how to play on the kitchen table and 40 years later - I am purchasing my very own steinway grand piano.
The 'L' Model Steinway Piano
Since 1853, Steinway pianos have set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty, and investment value. Handcrafting each Steinway requires up to one full year – creating an instrument of rare quality and global renown. Not surprisingly, Steinway remains the choice of 9 out of 10 concert artists, and countless pianists, composers, and performers around the world.
The Steinway tone is radically better than any other piano, especially those built before 1970. Every Steinway has a slightly different sound quality, and buying new means having the luxury of trying out several pianos of the same size and price. The L is a smaller size grand piano and the favorite of most pianists because of it's magnificent tone quality.
And this leads us to Dave Brubeck and why he preferred an L Steinway which eventually led to yours truly.
The Jazz Master Playing On My Piano
Now, having a Legend like Dave Brubeck in your home, playing your piano, is a dream come true. I sat, spell-bound as I watched him go through a set of his own designed warm-ups on the piano. Never, ever, had I witnessed anything like it. Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to record some of his remarkable warm-ups on an old recorder I had. Thanks to my son Randy, who was able to somehow download them on to ITunes, you can listen to these warm-ups which were recorded in 1981 in my home on Kauai, Hawaii.
After Mr. Brubeck concluded his warm-ups he invited me to join him at the piano for some musical improvisation. I felt like I was going to school for the first time. I did my best, floundering with the few jazz licks I knew. Needless to say, this was a humbling experience but also a grateful one.
Koke'e State Park Kauai, Hawaii
Papaya, Mango and Dave Brubeck
I made sure that the "Maestro of Jazz" had a plate of fresh papaya, mango, kiwi, banana and pineapple each morning for breakfast. I even picked these fruits myself.
I begin to feel like Mr. Brubeck needed more privacy, so I took off for a few days to beautiful Kokee. The endless hiking trails surrounded by magnificent flowers and ferns were magical. The trails ended at various lookout spots, of the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific"... magnificent Waimea Canyon. Kauai is truly a stunning paradise.
When I returned home, Dave Brubeck had finished his composition and bid me aloha. I have 2 separate notes of thanks hand-written from the "boy from Concord, California". He also mailed and autographed his new record album with the Jazz Mass composition on it. But it doesn't end there.
Dave Brubecks Classic Jazz Hit - "Take Five"
Grammy Award WinningTaj Mahal Mows me Down
"I walk with the energy of music every day. I don't have to turn it on to hear it play." - Taj Mahal.
l met Taj Mahal when he, his gorgeous wife, and adorable, curly headed, baby boy moved in next door to me. Kauai attracts many famous people. Celebrities know that they will be left in peace and can enjoy privacy. Taj was my neighbor for almost 6 months before I knew who he was. One day he was watching me cut the grass . I was almost finished when I heard a loud voice yelling at me, "Hey, can I borrow your lawn-mower"? "You sure can", I replied. At that, he walked across the vacant area between our houses to where I was standing, grabbed my lawn mower and said "thanks - I'm Taj Mahal".
I never saw my lawn mower again. I pestered him again and again. For all I know he still has my lawn mower. That's okay and that is not the reason I am still mad at him.
Taj Mahal - Shame On You
The reason I am still, to this day, upset with Taj Mahal, goes back to my visit from Dave Bruebeck. Taj spotted him a few times going in and out of my house. One day Taj approached me and asked if I would introduce him to Dave Brubeck. Taj absolutely idolized the man and would be forever grateful to me for an introduction. I refused to introduce them. I felt that a "trust" between Dave and I would be broken and besides I knew that Dave was here for only one purpose - to finish his Jazz Mass. And that was that.
A few weeks later, I received a gift from Mr. Brubeck. A "first edition" of his brand new record album, autographed and with a thank you. The title of the album "to Hope", a celebration, is available on CD.
I had barely held the album in my hands, when I caught a glimpse of Taj as he waved to me. At that point, remembering how I had denied him an introduction to Dave Brubeck, I decided to share my good fortune with him and allowed him to borrow the album. He promised to return it later that day. I never saw my precious gift again. I attempted to retrieve it - but it was gone forever.
When I moved to California Bay Area, from Hawaii, I learned that he was living in Berkely and I immediately contacted him by phone. Yes, he remembered the album but no, he didn't have a clue as to what happened to it.
But the good news is - Dave Brubeck heard about this story and immediatley sent me a beautiful CD. On the front cover, near the title, he wrote "Thanks Audrey for letting me work at your piano. Dave."
"In the end, ultimately the music plays you, you don't play the music." - Taj Mahal
PS. . .Taj ~ I am over it. . .no longer upset and wish you peace, joy and love ~
Thanks from jazz pianist Dave Brubeck
© 2011 Audrey Hunt