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Violinist surprises pianist Dave Brubeck, starts improvising from the audience

Jan 24, 2012 By Abraham

In this clip, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck is performing at the Moscow Conservatory when a rather gutsy young musician in the audience starts playing along. You can see from Brubeck’s reaction that he is both surprised and delighted…

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      1. Rob Riley says:

        Those who characterize the young violinist as “disrespectful” show an ignorance of jazz and the jazz culture. If the kid hadn’t had the chops, Brubeck would’ve been justified in cutting him down. But the kid could play and he and Brubeck improvised beautifully together. Completely appropriate whether in a session in a club in New Orleans in the ’20’s, a speak in Kansas City in the 30’s, or a conservatory in Moscow in the 90’s or whenever this vid was shot. It’s jazz.

    1. Neto says:

      Oh please.
      What world you live in?
      First: this is a CONSERVATORY, not a theater performance.
      Second: if Brubeck didn’t care and was humble to play along with him, who are you to judge?
      Third: because this “jackass” has the guts to try to create a special moment, you had the opportunity to see mr. brubeck playing.
      Finally, the world is a better place with this moment. Simple as that.

    2. Daly says:

      I actually know Dave Brubeck a little and believe I have a sense of the kind of person he is. I think his response was absolutely genuine. And I think that young man was pretty “ballsy” to do that, but it was in the true spirit of jazz and music in general. It’s creative! They made something new together. Jazz is about “jamming,” making something jointly, and I think that young man turned a nice “concert” into a genuine musical event, totally in the spirit of Brubeck’s kind of music. I LOVED it!

  1. Michelle says:

    Normally I would agree with you, Brian, and say that it was rude… however, if you know anything about Dave Brubeck, you know that he absolutely loves to have “jam” sessions and collaborate with all kinds of musicians. Brubeck’s face literally LIT UP when the young man started up with the violin. It wasn’t a look of surprise to mask being annoyed – Brubeck genuinely enjoyed it.

    1. Love2Live says:

      Yes, I did enjoy seeing his face light up like that, but the violinist had no business interrupting Mr. Brubeck’s concert. It seemed like he was just an attention hog to me.

      1. Michelle says:

        Keep in mind that this performance was at a Conservatory of Music.

        I didn’t get the feeling that he was being an attention hog. Had he been an attention hog, he’d have been facing the audience and doing more physical “tricks” to get their attention. He kept his attention focused on Brubeck and about half-way through, you can see that there was an unspoken conversation between them of mutual respect.

        Had the violinist wanted to be disrespectful, he’d have A) chosen a different musician to do this with, B) started to play a different song rather than the same one with melody and harmony dancing a playful contrapuntal tune, and C) he’d have gone up on the stage immediately – not at the end to shake Brubeck’s hand.

        Oh, and as for that latter bit… It didn’t seem to me that this violinist was jumping up on stage afterwards to “get his due credit” or to be an attention hog. It looked awkward for Mr Brubeck to be leaning over the side of the piano and stage to shake the young man’s hand. I bet he felt he was doing Brubeck a favor by coming to him.

        That all said, I wasn’t there so I can’t be sure of intent or anything of the like. All I have to go on is knowing of the man Dave Brubeck is, knowing how he loves to collaborate on all scales, and what I could see in this video.

  2. Jessica says:

    Now see, it’s attitudes like this that make musicians hesitate. Spontaneity, improvisation, and harmony should be applauded, particularly when it is well executed. There is no reason for this! This was all around enjoyable, and no matter his reasons for doing it, the audience enjoyed it, the pianist that was “interrupted” obviously enjoyed it, and it’s a credit to their talents that they could cooperate so smoothly with no rehearsal or even a heads up. For goodness’ sake, life isn’t a Disney movie! These things don’t happen every day. When they do, you DON’T call shame on it.

  3. Abraham Piper says:

    I really don’t think this video tells enough of the story to judge the violinist negatively. For all we know, the folks in charge asked him to do it since they knew Brubeck would like it so much.

  4. Laurie says:

    I know nothing about the circumstances or the violinist’s guts, but I know that was most certainly Joyous music making! Good gracious, Dave!

  5. Jodi says:

    I agree with Michelle, Jessica and Abraham…It certainly seems like it was planned spontaneity. Firstly, the violinist was in the front row, with his instrument out of the case, and secondly, there was a microphone readily at hand to make sure he was heard in balance with the piano. I applaud it! It was a moment of joyful surprise for the audience and Mr. Brubeck and it is impromtu musical moments like this that give humanity cause for wonder and exuberance at the gift of music.

    1. Stephanie says:

      yes, but there was a point when the musician looked up and seemed surprised to see the microphone by his instrument. It actually gave him pause.

  6. Cameron says:

    I love the pure collaboration and selfless musicianship! It isn’t about credit or fame, just pure, enjoyable music for the sake of the audience.

  7. Hugo Guessit says:

    I’d be inclined to say that those above ranting about how rude the violinist was have never been to a jazz concert or heard of Dave Brubeck because, as stated above, he enjoys that kind of jam session. at worst, the violinist could be accused of being presumptuous, maybe even arrogant. And I’ll say that when I played the Volga Boat Song in my piano lessons, it never sounded that good. (but I learned it when I had been playing only a few years and when I was older I never returned to it as I thought I’d mastered it. considering this performance, I can unequivocally say I was wrong in that assumption.)

  8. thebob says:

    It worked out well and sounded really good, but my god the arrogance of that violinist. Bit conflicted about this one.

  9. BJK says:

    There are 2 philosophies of music.

    One is that music is a privilege, and in a certain sense sacred. This view causes music to become a separator, it divides between those who can and those who can’t. In this view artists become stars and music becomes a spectator sport.

    The other view is that music is a right, like the right to free speech. This view sees music as a unifier. Regardless of achievement all are welcome, in the same way that all the birds singing their own songs unite in a beautiful chorus.

    As a musician, I have lived at times in both camps, so I’m not trying to say one is right and the other is wrong. They just exist. When I was younger I would have seen the violinist as rude, since he detracted from the accomplishment of the pianist. If I were Mr. Brubeck, I would have been very put off because I would have seen him as a threat and my ego would have been bruised.

    Now that I’m older and I don’t feel a need to get my life from those kinds of accolades, I love it when other people play music with me no matter what their skill level. I know why Mr. Brubeck responded the way he did, he was enjoying making music with someone and they connected. It’s that simple. The young violinist hopped up on stage because he still gets his life from the accolades, and that’s okay. He’s young and needs to prove himself. I’m just glad we got to hear it.

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