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Birthday Greetings to Darius Brubeck at 75

Today, 14 June 2022 marks the 75th birthday of Darius Brubeck. Friends and colleagues from around the world show their admiration, gratitude, respect and love for a popular, influential musician and a force for good.

Darius Brubeck at Kings Place.
Photo credit Monika S. Jakubowska

Chris Ballantine: Darius: A birthday message from Africa’s warm South, where you have spent about one-third of your life, to which you often return, and which celebrates your legacy in perpetuity. (After all, you established the first degree-programme in jazz on the African continent, put jazz pedagogy on an entirely new footing, changed countless lives for the better, and helped launch the careers of many of the South African jazz performers now globally esteemed.) May you continue to flourish – as performer, composer, band-leader, and jazz musicologist! Every best wish, too, for the publication of your recently completed memoir (co-written with Cathy) about your decades in South Africa. Having previewed it, I know the impact it will have. It must soon become available everywhere as a book! Chris

Paweł Brodowski: Dear Darius, Best wishes on your 75th birthday – on behalf of jazz fans in Poland, Jazz Forum magazine and myself! I would like to express my admiration for your efforts in cultivating the memory and legacy of your legendary father Dave Brubeck, one of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz, with whom you first visited Poland on his unforgettable tour back in 1958. But most of all I would like to thank you for your own contributions as pianist, composer, bandleader and educator. Your are a true gentleman, a man – like your father – of class, wisdom and vision. And please accept our condolences on the passing of your sister Catherine. The Brubeck legacy lives on!

Matt Brubeck: Happy Birthday Darius and may you have many more!  We hear 75 is the new 50! Your creative energy does not seem to have flagged one bit. Hope you have a grand celebration and don’t forget “the most important part”!? Much love, Matt, Diarmid, and Roscoe

L-R: Derek Walmsley, Philip Clark and Darius Brubeck at the launch of “A Life in Time”, 2020. Photo credit: Kris Hollington

Philip Clark: No Brubeck needs to be reminded that time can add-up in mysterious ways, but, Darius, hard to believe that you’re 75! Olivia and I, and the kids, send you the very happiest of birthday wishes, and also send our love to Cathy. It was Dave who told me, some 25 years ago, that you were going to be living in Nottingham for a year and to be sure to be in touch. I’m so pleased I did! Since then I’ve come to admire greatly your razor-sharp intelligence and the integrity of your musicianship; your grace, wit and generosity of spirit. You were always at the end of an email when I was writing my biography of Dave, always with the information I needed – and often more – and always willing to unpick some of your father’s more unconventional notational habits when I was searching through his sketches. Couldn’t have done it without you. Seeing you bounce back with such vigour and renewed creative energy after the horrors of 2020 has been wonderful to witness, and I can’t wait for many more years of conversation, lunches, teas and cake, and music.

Ross Dines: Dear Darius, Happy 75th Birthday!  A fantastic player, and a lovely guy.  One of our absolute favourites at the club.  Wishing you a beautiful day.  Best wishes from Ross Dines and all the team at PizzaExpress Live.

Feya Faku: Dear Darius

I Salute you deep from within

For your 75th Birthday. May you leave longer, the world is

Still enjoying your Musicality and creativity in the Jazz world

You have done a lot in South Africa some of us who come

From the disadvantaged background.

John Fordham: Not many gamechanging jazz legends have their legacies preserved by relatives with the skills to do it authentically, inventively, and from an uncannily similar temperamental perspective. I only interviewed Darius Brubeck’s famous father Dave Brubeck once, late in his life, and was struck not only by the great man’s modesty, but by his enduring curiosity, about music and musicians, and much else. Darius is a chip off the same block – gifted, self-effacing, amiable, knowledgeable, and open. The first time I met him and his wife Cathy in London, what started as a brief drink to trot through their plans turned into an evening at a gig (I think it was John Scofield) and a delightfully freewheeling conversation about anything and everything – from touring the Brubeck legacy band, to Darius’ own work, his quarter-century in South Africa teaching, playing, and contributing to post-apartheid opportunities for young black musicians, and the subsequently UK-resident couple’s informed enthusiasm for Premier League football. It’s been a big relief to know that Darius has come back from a touch-and-go brush with coronavirus in March 2020 and is touring again, and that he and Cathy are about to share their unique experiences of life, art, and educating in South Africa and around the world in a book. Dave was still on the road at 85, so you’ve got a way to go, Darius – meanwhile, have a great 75th. 

L-R: Darius, Dave O’Higgins, Matt Ridley, Wesley Gibbens.
Photo credit: John Bolger

Wes Gibbens: It’s been a privilege travelling the world playing music together and long may it continue. Having shared our roots in South Africa, and now a long history in the UK, I’ve always considered you family, or should I say “Bra Darius”. Happy birthday!

Kevin Gibson:

All the best Darius! I’ll take five to write this before it’s too late. You’re still on my mind since we met in October, years ago, just south of Kwa Mashu. In today’s sea of troubles, you are, and will always be Mighty Like the Blues.

Much love Kevin G

Neil Gonsalves: Happy birthday Darius! Thanks for being a great teacher, mentor, inspiration and friend over these many years. I’ve followed in your footsteps in more ways than I could have imagined and as a consequence, have lived a life of great reward. Keep striding and striving, and I hope to catch up with you soon.

Frank Griffith: Darius is a most kind and gentle soul as well as  very generous – both musically and off the bandstand in equal measure. Happy 75th, Darius. Your interaction and positive influence on UK jazz has been inspirational and beyond category.

Charles Hodgkinson: Happy 75th Birthday Darius! This year, more than ever, we wish you continued good health and many opportunities to share your immeasurable talent and gentle kindness with the world.  With lots of love, your Valentine publishing family.

Martin Hummel: Darius, wishing you miles of smiles on your milestone 75th year on this planet. You’re a one-of-a-kind in so many ways, as a consummate professional, philanthropist, savant and overall wonderful human being. It’s an honour and a pleasure to know you and I look forward to enjoying what the next 75 years has in store for us all. Sending you and Cathy our warmest affection, Martin & Leslie Hummel

Mark Lockheart: Happy Birthday Darius, wishing you a wonderful day and many happy returns  I hope that we can get together soon for that play we’ve talked about! Best, Mark

Darius and a group of his former piano students at the Howard College Theatre at the University of KwaZulu Natal, 2018.
L to R: Burton Naidoo, Andile Yenana, Darius Brubeck, Debbie Mari, Nishlyn Ramanna, Melvin Peters and Neil Gonsalves. Photo Credit: Yolisa Ndima

Debbie Mari: Happiest Birthday greetings to you on your 75th birthday, Darius! Today we honour you as a wonderful musician and composer, teacher, mentor and ‘family’ to all of us who were privileged to be your students, fellow musicians, colleagues and friends. Most of all we love your sense of humour and endless musical stories! Enjoy your special day and thank you for being you! Much love, Debbie & George Mari – Durban, South Africa

Darius Brubeck Quartet dinner with promoters in Lublin, Poland 2018. Photo courtesy of Dave O’Higgins

Dave O’Higgins: Happy Birthday, Darius! I think we’ve been friends for almost 30 years now (since South Africa in 1993) & you’ve always been an extremely open & encouraging force. I’m proud to be a part of the Darius Brubeck Quartet & the Brubecks Play Brubeck, and how marvellous to still hear folkloric new stories with regularity! Words can’t express how relieved we all are you pulled through your Covid battle. I look forward to getting back on the road again later this week. I know there’s some new tunes in the mix to keep us on our toes…. Big hugs, Dave

Michael Omer: TAKE 75! Darius – SEVENTY FIVE!! – surely not! You are looking good on it! You have contributed so much to the world of jazz, both here and in South Africa, passing on your skills and insights to your students, and delighting audiences worldwide with your original compositions and refreshed versions of your dad’s still popular hits. We will do something special later in the year when you visit and play in the Music at Stow Festival in Cotswolds! Keep doing what you do so well, and happy birthday from all on the Music at Stow Board!

Brubecks play Brubeck, St Edward’s Church, Stow-on-the-Wold, January 2018.
L-R: Darius, Chris and Dan Brubeck. Photo (c) Michael Omer – All Rights Reserved

Sylwester Ostrowski(*): All the best birthday wishes to Darius Brubeck from his friends in Poland.
Darius (aged 11) accompanied the great  Dave Brubeck on his 1958 US State Department Concert Tour. It was the first visit of American jazz stars to Poland after World War II. It started in my home town, where promoter Roman Waschko talked Dave into allowing Darius to open the concert with his band and so Darius Brubeck’s official stage debut as a jazz pianist took place in my beloved Szczecin. We met 60 years later to celebrate those events, playing a joint concert with Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Later we toured Poland with Darius Brubeck Quartet and Sylwester Ostrowski & Jazz Brigade. ‘The Brubeck legacy’  became an integral part of Polish jazz history. Darius, our great friend! On your birthday we wish you good health, creative inspiration and fulfilment of all your dreams. You are a wonderful mentor, friend and artist. You have so many wonderful people around you (we love You Cathy too so much). Sylwester Ostrowski and Szczecin Jazz family

Darius with Sylwester Ostrowski & Jazz Brigade. Photo courtesy of Sylwester Ostrowski

Paul Pace: Dear Darius, wishing you the happiest of birthdays and heartfelt thanks for the wonderful contributions that you have made to the scene. You have set the bar high with your own amazing quartet and brought to life, the vital legacy of Dave’s music with ‘Brubecks Play Brubeck’. It is also a joy and an honour to have you and Cathy as dear friends, much credit being due to the best Brubeck biographer and incisive music journalist Philip Clark, for initially connecting us.

Melvin Peters: I had the opportunity to meet Darius Brubeck in 1983 when I started jazz piano lessons at the University of Natal. I soon realised that this journey I had embarked on would indeed be life-changing, and I have never looked back since. Darius Brubeck was not only my teacher, role model and mentor, however he also became my friend whom I have always admired from those early years. Happy Birthday, Darius, keep swinging, and may you continue to grow from strength to strength in the years that lie ahead.

Michael Rose/National Jazz Archive: A very happy birthday Darius! Thank you, the Quartet and, most importantly, Cathy for all your support and for one our most popular fundraisers. The very best wishes from the Trustees and everyone at the National Jazz Archive.

Darius Brubeck at the National Jazz Archive, 2021.
Photo credit: Brian O’Connor/ Images of Jazz

Matt Ridley: Happy birthday Darius! It’s been an honour and a privilege to play with you, learn from you, travel the world, hang out, and hear some legendary first-hand jazz stories over the last 16 years. Thank you! Here’s to many more years to come! Love from Matt, Tanaya and Thalo

Alyn Shipton: Best birthday wishes to Darius. His current quartet has been a treat to hear, specially on its 2019 record from Poland. And 10-year old Darius’s journal of his father’s Polish tour was a great reference when Equinox did the UK edition of Magdalena Grzebałkowska’s life of Krysztof Komeda. I’m also especially grateful to Darius for introducing me to wonderful players like altoist Barney Rachabane, bassist Victor Ntoni and drummer Lulu Gontsana. Their 1990s B&W albums were a window into that period of jazz in South Africa which helped me immeasurably in making a series of documentaries shortly afterwards for the BBC World Service, in which we recognised Darius’s work in Natal as a foundation stone for the generation of SA musicians who prospered after apartheid.

Geoffrey Smith: Darius and I go back more than half a century,  to when he was a bright-eyed undergraduate at Wesleyan University in Connecticut  studying ethnomusicology and religion. Years later we renewed our acquaintance when I  made a series of programmes for Radio 3 with his illustrious Dad. Some of the most  joyous  were family occasions, featuring Dave playing with his sons, most memorably  Dave’s gala 80th birthday concert with the LSO.  Throughout his long career,  Darius has added his own  lustre to the Brubeck name, as pianist, leader and pioneering educator, spreading the jazz word around the world.   A big Happy Birthday!

Scott Stroman: Hey Darius, happy 75th! Thanks for all the great music and always great spirit, and hope to see you and Cathy in London again very soon. Keep spreading those positive vibes!

(*) Sylwester Ostrowski’s original Polish text: 

“Najlepsze życzenia urodzinowe dla Dariusa Brubeck’a od przyjaciół ze Szczecin Jazz, Polska.  Połączyła nas piękna historia. 

Darius jako jedenastoletni młodzieniec towarzyszył wspaniałemu Dave Burbreck w jego  USA state’s department concert tour w 1958 r. Ta trasa jest prawdziwą legendą w naszym kraju. To była pierwsza wizyta amerykańskich gwiazd jazzu w Polsce po drugiej wojnie światowej. Całość rozpoczęła w moim home Town, gdzie właśnie Dave za namowa polskiego działacza i promotora Romana Waschko pozwolił otworzyc koncert, dając zagrać Dariuszowi ze swoim zespołem. Tak właśnie Darius Brubeck oficjalnie zadebiutował jako pianista jazzowe ponad 60 lat temu w moim ukochanym Szczecinie. 

Spotkaliśmy się po sześćdziesięciu latach aby celebrować tamte wydarzenia. W 2018 dalismy wspólny koncert razem z Wyntonem Marsalisem i jego Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra a po kilku miesiącach ruszyliśmy w trasę po Polsce – Darius Brubeck Quartet i Sylwester Ostrowski & Jazz Brigade. Te wydarzenia scementowały nas a Brubeck legacy stały się nierozerwalną częścią historii polskiego jazzu tak jak Darius Brubeck stał się ogromnie ważny dla mojej „personel music path”. 

Darius, our great friend. W dniu twoich urodzin, życzymy ci dużo zdrowia, inspiracji twórczej i spełnienia marzeń. Jesteś wspaniałym mentorem, przyjacielem i artystą. Masz wspaniałych ludzi wokół siebie ( we love You Cathy too so much) 

Happy birthday Darius! keep on keeping on. Cheers, Sylwester Ostrowski and Szczecin Jazz family” (ends)

With special thanks to all the contributors, and to Nicky Schrire, Agata Kubiak, Peter Bacon, Dave O’Higgins, Martin Hummel and Charles Rees – and, above all to Cathy Brubeck.

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