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Bob Lind, Published July 11 2013

Fargo man provides details of jazz pianist’s performances

All right, jazz fans, let’s take five with Dave Brubeck.

When the famed jazz pianist and composer died at age 91 last December, The Forum, including Neighbors, carried stories about his appearances in Fargo-Moorhead, and several people sent letters to The Forum’s opinion pages with reminisces of hearing him perform.

Those letters and articles were “heart-warming and notable,” Don Nelson, of Fargo, writes. But “for the record and in the name of accuracy,” he says, he sends in details of the seven times the Brubeck Jazz Quartet performed in Fargo-Moorhead, as researched by Don at the Minnesota State University Moorhead library and the Fargo Public Library. Here they are:

• Oct. 22, 1956, at Festival Hall, North Dakota Agricultural College. The lineup was Brubeck on piano; Paul Desmond, alto sax; Joe Morello, drums; and Norman Bates, double bass.

• Nov. 5, 1960, Nemzek Fieldhouse, Minnesota State University Moorhead. The lineup was the same, with Bates subbing for Eugene Wright, who then was the regular double-bassist.

• Jan. 28, 1967, Memorial Auditorium, Concordia College, with Brubeck, Desmond, Morello and Wright.

• April 26, 1969, Fargo Civic Auditorium, at which Brubeck performed his 1968 oratorio, “the Light in the Wilderness,” with the University of Minnesota

a capella chorus and orchestra in conjunction with the North Central Division of the Music Educators National Conference. The lineup was undetermined.

• Oct. 6, 1977, Festival Hall, NDSU. The lineup was a family affair: Brubeck on piano and his sons Chris on bass trombone/electric upright bass and electric fretless bass, Dan on drums and Darius on piano and electric piano.

• Oct. 8, 1983, Festival Concert Hall, NDSU, with Brubeck on piano, Chris Brubeck on the instruments listed for him above, Bill Smith on clarinet and Randy Jones, an alumnus of Maynard Ferguson’s band, on drums.

• Nov. 3, 1987, Center for the Arts Auditorium, MSUM, with the Murray Louis Dance Company, a program of jazz and modern dance, with Brubeck on piano, Chris Brubeck on electric bass, Smith on clarinet and Jones on drums.

He was there twice

“I was lucky to be present for the first two gigs while I was a student at NDSU (when it was NDAC),” Don says.

“In 2011, when Dr. Simon Rowe (formerly professor of music at MSUM) was named director/curator of the Brubeck Institute, based at the University of the Pacific (Brubeck’s alma mater) in Stockton, Calif.,” Don says, “I told Dr. Simon that Brubeck had performed at MSUM. He wasn’t aware of that, so I researched it and provided him the details.”

Don says the Brubeck Institute was founded in 2000 and has five major programs that help to carry on the legacy of Brubeck to audiences young and old, with a focus on education.

“Brubeck must have liked performing in Fargo-Moorhead,” Don says, “since he came here seven times over a 27-year period during the busy prime of his life when his popularity was in full bloom.”


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, N. 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com