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Taking 5 with Brubeck

December 6, 2012

In January of 1985, my west coast jazz sextet, Night Music, somehow finagled its way into opening a concert for Dave Brubeck and his quartet. The gig was at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco.


The day before the concert, KJAZ radio hosted a 3-way radio interview with their DJ, Dick Conte, me and Mr. Brubeck. About half way through it, Dick asked me how it felt to be playing keyboards on the same stage as Brubeck – playing his piano, no less.

I said, “It’s like presenting a paper about religion to GOD.”

The next day, after our sound check, Dick Conte called me backstage and introduced the two of us.

“Ed Manning, meet Dave Brubeck.”

I was standing there with a massive grin on my face holding his Jazz Goes to College LP that I had brought along for him to sign.

I held out my hand to him. When I did, he slowly reached out, and with a huge grin of his own, he gently laid his hand on my head and said, “Bless you, my son.”

NIght Music 1985

L to R: Nate Pruitt, Dave Silliman, Rick Vandivier, Bob Johnson, Ed Manning, Skylark

6 Comments leave one →
  1. John Littleboy permalink
    December 6, 2012 10:54 am

    Hmm…..A pianist with a warm sense of humor…..sounds like someone I know.


  2. December 6, 2012 11:26 am

    Hi Ed. I well and will remember that night. An honor it was to be there with God, aka, Dave. We began with “There Will Never Be Another You,” and now we should add to that venerable song title, “You” … aka, Dave.

  3. Peter Hilliard permalink
    December 6, 2012 11:56 am

    Great story Ed…thanks for sharing it.

    Peter Hilliard

  4. December 6, 2012 12:55 pm

    I love it! And yes, many Potbelly Beach memories.

  5. December 6, 2012 1:31 pm

    Great post Ed. I couldn’t help but notice one line in the Brubeck NY Times obit:

    “”When he was 14, a laundryman who led a dance band encouraged him to perform in public, at Lions Club gatherings and Western-swing dances; he was paid $8 for playing from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., with a one-hour break. ”

    Man. I thought, they really took advantage of him. $8 to hear a guy play all night. Then I thought about it a little more. He was fourteen 77 years ago in 1935. Taking inflation into account, $8 then is worth $134.72 now. So he got 19 bucks an hour for 7 hours of work in today’s dollars, which is more per hour than our band makes per man at the restaurant we play in on Saturday nights. At least we get 15 minute breaks and a free chicken sandwich. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… .

  6. Jeff Pera permalink
    December 12, 2012 10:49 am

    My family smiled and laughed on the reading of your story. The only higher praise would be if Dave had heard it.

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