I’m pleased to present a story on jazz pianist and composer extraordinaire, Dave Brubuck’s Tribute to Piano Teachers.
As a piano teacher, I spend a good deal of time sourcing unique and eclectic repertoire in addition to the standard collection of classical music for my students to enjoy and perform at regularly scheduled concerts throughout the year.
Last year, I was delighted to stumble upon a collection of Dave Brubeck solo piano pieces entitled, “Nocturnes”. I had not heard of these pieces or was aware of this publication before.
Dave Brubeck, designated a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, was one of the most popular musicians in both the jazz and classical worlds. With a career spanning over six decades, his experiments in odd time signatures, improvised counterpoint, polyrhythm and polytonality remain hallmarks of innovation.
Brubeck passed away December 2012. This December 2013 article is in part a tribute to his legacy and inspiration to piano students around the world.
A Nocturne is a short composition of a romantic or dreamy character suggestive of night, typically for piano. It first appeared on the European music scene during the Romantic era, from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century. The music of that era elicited strong emotion such as awe. Composers included Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. Brubeck’s Nocturnes are lighter and shorter in form, resembling Tone Poems, evoking a thoughtful mood.
Brubeck wrote in the Foreward, “This book of Nocturnes is directed toward the music teachers who do not teach Jazz, and to their students who are not yet committed to learn Jazz improvisations. Some of my piano books contain improvisations transcribed from my recordings, important for Jazz students who wish to study how improvisations develop from basic thematic and harmonic material. However, these Noctures, pensive in mood, are complete in themselves, and I hope they will serve as a bridge for the classical pianist to understand the music that is often the foundation for my Jazz performances.”
These 24 pieces are ideal for students who have completed our Classic Series Volumes 1 and 2. Each piece does exactly what Brubeck had intended – introduces classically trained piano students to the feel of jazz improvisation by simply playing the piece. No improvisation work required.
Professor John Salmon of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, recorded these Nocturnes on the CD “John Salmon Plays Brubeck Piano Compositions”. I purchased MP3sof the selections I felt my students would enjoy the most. As a piano teacher for over 25 years, I find it more engaging for students to listen to the piece while following along with the music. They are able to hear intonations and interpretations not expressly indicated in the sheet music, helping them to craft ideas of their own.
Below are three MP3 selections to give you a taste of the CD and music publications. I hope you enjoyed discovering and learning about Dave Brubeck’s Nocturnes. If you want to hear more, selections may be purchased from “John Salmon Plays Brubeck Piano Compositions” on iTunes. The music book is published by Warner Bros. Publications AF9747.
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