Brubeck Brothers Interview Page 4
had so much happening. Anyhow, that’s how we first met him and I heard some recordings and Dave heard some recordings and we said “Wow, this kid’s really good.” So we stayed in touch with him and he would show up at concerts. Before long, there were promoters in California in the Bay Area that were putting on special concerts. There were three generations of great jazz pianists. It would be Dave representing the oldest one, David Benoit in the middle, and then Taylor as the upstart, being about 15, you know, completely comfortable. Sometimes Dan and I would be the rhythm section for all three pianists. Then pretty soon Dan and I would be doing gigs in California and started asking Taylor to play with us. At first when you hear a kid play you wonder if he’s actually just figured out 35 great blues choruses and he just sounds impressive but you are left wondering where’s his Achilles heel?
Well, we started doing concerts where I’d pull out a tune I wrote and I just put it in front of Taylor. I know he’d never seen it before, I know he’d never heard it before. (Both laugh.) Damn, he’d played his butt off! So he is just totally, totally the real deal. I mean, if he sang or something like Jamie Cullum, then suddenly the market….the outreach would be broader and people would know exactly who he is, but being just an instrumentalist, I keep saying “Are you sure you can’t sing?” (Both laugh.) I’m trying to hear this kid and some people can discover a great pianist.
And the other thing that is great about Taylor and being with him in the studio is that he’s so young and exuberant. It reminded me of once when my wife and I were in Hawaii and a friend of mine took us sailing on a boat. No power, just out there with sails in the wind. We came across this school of whales, including some very small ones, the baby humpbacks, and this baby humpback was just jumping in the air for joy and spinning around and splashing like “I’m free, I’m glad, I love life,” That’s what Taylor’s energy was like. It was so good and infectious. He never had anything but glowing reviews in his life, and it was just so positive to be around that vibe. Because if you’re a jazz musician long enough, you end up getting this sort of slightly jaded attitude, and that’s sort of what you need to survive, you know. Sort of making fun of yourself all the time (laughs), expecting every check to bounce and every club to be empty, all that kind of vibe. You probably know enough jazz musicians to know what I’m talking about. That attitude is sort of a survival instinct tinged with dark humor. I’m a pretty positive person and with Taylor’s attitude, and everyone’s great playing you get all this sort of happy, wonderful energy on this recording.
Smitty: Yeah, that’s a great way to put it because you could feel that whole freedom from him and I picture him as someone just smiling away while he’s playing.
CB: Yeah, he is. And, you know, the older he gets, the more you could see his brain working hard. (Both laugh.) He used to smile just about all the time and now he smiles like most of the time. I’m telling you, he’s trying to pull some stuff off that is technically daunting….the fingering and the timing and harmonically what he’s doing….I don’t blame him for breaking into like a concentrated furrowed brow every once in a while.
Smitty: Wow. Well, I gotta tell ya, Chris, I love this record, I love what you cats are doing, and I can’t say enough about this record. This is one that I highly recommend. It’s just got everything you would want in music, period.
CB: Wow, thank you very much.
Smitty: Yes, this is great stuff. Great, man, you guys have a synergy about yourselves that just makes the music explode and I think that’s a beautiful thing. Not every band can say that.
CB: Wow. Well, thank you so much. I’m just so glad that you feel it because certain of those tunes, in particular I remember “Parade du Funk,” when I heard the playback my reaction was “Oh my God, we were lucky that we had a tape rolling when that thing went down!” (Both laugh.) I think it’s a pretty safe generality to say that when you hear risk taking on a record, that’s what makes it really exciting.
Smitty: You’re so right.
CB: I must say Dan leads the way in that department. I mean, he takes these polyrhythmic riffs and I’m thinking “What in the world are you doing?” (Both laugh.) But that’s where you’re talking about that exploding thing, it’s going for broke and trying to get that energy together, and so, yeah, I’m quite proud of how the whole thing turned out.
Smitty: Absolutely. Now, you guys have a Web site, Brubeck Brothers Web site, right?
CB: Actually, what we have is a site called www.brubeckmusic.com.
Smitty: All right.
CB: And on that site are things that have to do with the Brubeck Brothers Quartet and also Triple Play, which is another band I’m in with an awesome harmonica player named Peter “Madcat” Ruth and a great guitarist named Joel Brown. We all sing, so that’s a whole vocal, folky, jazzy, bluesy thing with no drummer, by the way (both laugh). And also I should mention that we knew that Taylor has got so much music in him that he was gonna end up going his own way in his own career and have his own manager and his own tours etc.. Sometimes we play together, but we have a pianist that’s on that Sierra Nevada Center Stage show named Chuck Lamb who is a wonderful pianist and plays great. We tour with Chuck and audiences just love his playing and his vibe. The only thing is that he’s not as young as Taylor, but he’s got all these great gifts and a great attitude that projects, so he’s gonna stay young a long time. Of course, Taylor, keeps getting older he’s an old man now, about 21.
Smitty: Very cool. And you guys have a great site. That’s a nice site. Lots of pictures and great stuff and a lot of history, which is always cool.
CB: Well, thank you. I’ve gotta tell you that I’m such an idiot when it comes to computers that I can’t even look at my own site. I don’t even know what I’m doing. All I know about it is how to do Finale and do the scores, and it’s my wife, God bless her, who tries to keep things together with helping me out and sort of getting the logistics of touring together and trying to keep the Web site up to date. She tries so hard just to clear the decks of reality for me so I can just work on music and then she tries to take care of everything else, so I’m very fortunate that she has that attitude.
Smitty: Yes you are. Very cool. Well, my gosh, Chris, man, we could talk for another four hours, my friend.
CB: Hey, well, you gotta go do your thing.
Smitty: Yeah, I’ve got a show tonight. But man, it’s been a real pleasure talking with you about your career, everything you’re doing, this great new record, and your fantastic band. We’ve been talking with the amazing Chris Brubeck, he has a fantastic new record out called Intuition. I highly recommend this great record! Chris, thanks again and please keep making great music!
CB: Thank you, Smitty! It’s been a pleasure for me as well.
Note: Taylor Eigsti was just named one of the five finalists in two Grammy categories: Best Jazz Instrumental Solo and Best Instrumental Composition. Congratulations, Taylor!
Baldwin “Smitty” Smith
For More Information Visit www.brubeckmusic.com and www.kochent.com