Dave Brubeck on Rock and Roll, Frank Zappa, and Rap music


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SS: Moving to a little bit of a different topic, obviously you embrace the value and the importance of jazz. I'd like to get your comments of your view about rock and roll music. It seems like your attitude towards rock and roll may have shifted a little bit over time. I know some quotes and interviews from the early '60s. You were pretty dismissive of rock and roll on musical terms, and later seemed to soften that stance a little bit, and acknowledge its legitimacy. How did your feelings about rock and roll change over time? Is that true to say that you've come to acknowledge its legitimacy a little more over time? And also, did playing with your sons in the early '70s have an influence on your view of rock music?

DB: Oh yeah. My sons, especially Chris and Danny, loved rock and were involved in rock bands, and would bring home rock musician friends that I grew to respect gradually because they were such great musicians. And, there's a lot of it that doesn't seem to move me that much, but there's some that does, like -- Iola, who's that great rock composer that I like so much?

IB: Sting?

DB: Sting is one, but before Sting -- I played with him in a Boston concert.

IB: You played with him in Boston?

DB: Yeah. Oh, dear.

IB: Oh, I know who you're thinking, Frank Zappa.

DB: Frank Zappa.

SS: Really? Brubeck and Zappa, huh?

DB: Well, we were on the same night, and I thought some of the things he was doing were just terrible because they had on rain clothes, and high boots like you were going through a storm, and rain hats -- you know, those yellow kind of hats, and they would roll on the floor and everything. Then I started listening to the music rather than looking at these guys, and I was thinking, "Boy, there's a lot going on there musically." So, you never want to put down any trend, any direction.

When I hear rap today, I can go through the same changes, and then Iola and I will laugh and say we started rap.

SS: Is that right? (laughter)

DB: [RAPPING] The time... will come... for men everywhere to speak... the truth... and equally to share the joy... the pain. That's in 7. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, one, two, three -- so, we were rocking or --

SS: Rapping.

DB: -- rapping in 7, years ago. It's on a recording. No doubt about it, we were ahead of our time. (laughter) And, that recording is called Truth Is Fallen. It's with a rock group and me as a jazz player. And, there's so many things that you do in your life that just get buried and hidden that are so important, at the time you think it's going to change things a little, or there will be some notice of it, and it doesn't come.

But, Truth Has Fallen, Marian McPartland was smart enough to like that, and knew that there were some good things going on there. And, the message is great in Truth Is Fallen, "Truth has fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. There was no man. There was no justice. None speaketh for truth." You've got things going on today. We could have told them 40 years ago it was going to happen.

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