That heady combination of jazz and classical influences still colors the music of Chris Brubeck, the bassist and trombonist of the Brubeck Brothers Quartet.
Saturday’s Spokane Symphony SuperPops concert will feature Chris and his brother, drummer Dan Brubeck – along with Mike DeMicco on guitar and Chuck Lamb on piano – playing a program ranging from Fats Waller to a trombone concerto.
Naturally, the jazz side of the Brubeck Brothers Quartet will predominate. Popular demand dictates that the program will include several big jazz numbers drawn from the Dave Brubeck vault: “Take Five,” “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “In Your Own Sweet Way.”
Yet the Brubeck Brothers are not simply a Dave Brubeck tribute band.
“We wanted to make sure we couldn’t be readily dismissed that way,” said Chris Brubeck, by phone from his Connecticut home. “Rather than riding his coattails, we are continuing his legacy.”
For instance, Saturday night’s program will also include a piece Chris wrote titled “Paradise Utopia: Movement No. 1 from the Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra.”
It’s a composition he recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and has also been played by many other orchestras.
Chris Brubeck went on to write many other orchestral pieces and to gain a reputation as a gifted classical composer – albeit with strong jazz influences. That’s why the Chicago Tribune called him a “21st Century Lenny Bernstein.”
Brubeck certainly doesn’t compare himself to Bernstein, although he did get to meet him during his childhood.
“I grew up seeing Dave collaborate with Leonard Bernstein,” he said.
Brubeck has a Bernstein-like knack for taking what he calls a “vernacular musical language” – jazz – and incorporating it into the classical music world. And he certainly loves working with a symphony orchestra.
Most of their tour dates feature the quartet alone, yet backed by an orchestra, they can expand their sound with arrangements mostly written by Chris Brubeck himself.
“It’s a terrifying thing to get into at first,” he said of writing orchestral arrangements. “But the more experience you have, the more you know that things are going to work well.”
He and Dan will perform his arrangement of their father’s “The Basie Band is Back in Town” and Fats Waller’s “Black & Blue.” They’ll also tackle their father’s “Unsquare Dance,” all backed by the orchestra and Music Director Eckart Preu.
They’ll also let the orchestra rest for a few numbers and perform as a jazz quartet on some of their own compositions, including “We’re Still In Love After All These Years.”
Preu and the orchestra will kick off the evening with a number that fits well with the evening’s “brotherly” theme: “Bach on Broadway,” written by his brother, Hans-Peter Preu.