Two weeks ago, I had a short reunion with two of my best friends with whom I was stationed in the Air Force in Colorado Springs in the 1960s. We reminisced about our drive across the Rockies to see a concert by the Dave Brubeck Quartet in May of 1965. He appeared at Western State College in Gunnison, and we were big fans – still are in fact.
When we got to Gunnison in the late afternoon, we found a nice restaurant on the outskirts of town and had dinner. We were just about to order dessert when we spotted a man sitting all alone at a nearby table. “He looks like Brubeck,” one of my friends whispered. “Maybe it is,” I said, “why don’t you go over and ask him?”
My friend carefully approached him. “Excuse me, but are you Dave Brubeck?”
“Yes I am,” he answered.
“We drove three hours over the mountains to see you tonight. Do you want to join us for dessert? We’d love to chat for a few minutes.”
Appearing a little shy, Brubeck graciously accepted the invitation. Someone wanted to know where the other three band members were (Paul Desmond, Joe Morello and Eugene Wright).
Brubeck laughed. “We don’t usually eat together. We see enough of each other as it is.”
He was very nice, and sat with us about 20 minutes or so. It’s been 42 years now, and I can’t recall anything else he said, but our questions were probably pretty dumb.
More than 30 years later, I interviewed Brubeck after his concert at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, Connecticut, where I was living at the time. I was doing a freelance review for the local newspaper. By pre-arrangement, I went backstage after the show and met his son Chris, who was playing bass and trombone in the quartet. He introduced me to his father, who was engaging, and generous with his time. When I was finished, I said to him, “I know you won’t remember this, but”, and told him about our meeting in Gunnison.
He smiled. “No I don’t,” he said. “In fact, I don’t even remember playing in Gunnison. I’ve been averaging more than 100 gigs every year for the past 35 years.”
Chris looked at me, then at his father, and said, “That sounds just like something he would do. My dad is a friendly guy.”