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New Dave Brubeck Documentary Co-Produced by Film Studies Professor

Nov 19, 2010

Dave Brubeck Quartet, 1958
Dave Brubeck Quartet, 1958

A new documentary about jazz legend Dave Brubeck premiered on television Monday, December 6, Brubeck's 90th birthday. The documentary "Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way" (a play on one of his famous tunes) aired on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) at 2:00 p.m. (5 p.m. Eastern Time).

Dr. Patti McCarthy

Dr. Patti McCarthy

What's so special about this documentary? Clint Eastwood is the executive producer, for one thing. And the documentary was co-produced by Pacific's own Dr. Patti McCarthy, a professor in the Film Studies Program. Steve Anderson, director of Pacific's Brubeck Institute, also contributed to the project, which has been several years in the making.

Dr. McCarthy has been actively involved in the film's day-to-day production, serving as support and go to person to Bruce Ricker, an Emmy-nominated producer/director who has teamed up with Clint Eastwood on numerous films, including other documentaries about musicians.

Unlike many other executive producers, Clint Eastwood has been extremely hands-on throughout the project. "Jazz is one of his passions, and he's a talented jazz pianist, himself. Mr. Eastwood has been involved creatively in all aspects of the production, from initial concept to final cut," said Dr. McCarthy.

"I am privileged to have worked with these outstanding talents and be able to help tell the story of one of the greatest musical artists of all time," she added. "Mr. Brubeck has touched so many lives with his work and music, and Bruce Ricker and Clint Eastwood, as master storytellers, have really been able to capture the essence of Dave Brubeck in this film."

Iola and Dave Brubeck, 1990s

Iola and Dave Brubeck, 1990s

Brubeck-Pacific Connection                  

Dave Brubeck and his wife, Iola, claim University of the Pacific as their alma mater, and Brubeck founded the Brubeck Institute here in 2000. The Institute provided photos, background information and historical notes for the documentary.

Revolutionary Music and Compassion Captured in the Film

"Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way" tells Brubeck's personal story, including his early musical training; studies with Darius Milhaud; the Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring Paul Desmond; and the musical revolution caused by his introduction of new time signatures in jazz, such as in "Take Five," which became the best selling jazz single in history.

Dr. McCarthy believes Dave Brubeck's music has the power to transform lives as well as to enlighten and entertain. "He has been such an important catalyst for change in our time and is a champion of freedom in all forms of expression, civil rights, social justice, creative imagination, and inspiration."

Features of the documentary include:

  • Interviews with George Lucas, Sting, Bill Cosby, Jamie Cullum, David Benoit, Yo-Yo Ma and others.
  • Previously unseen archival footage and photographs,
  • Never-before-seen interview with Dave Brubeck and Walter Cronkite.
  • New interviews with Dave and Iola Brubeck, capturing their longtime romance and artistic collaboration, which started during their college days as students at Pacific.

Links to learn more:

The Brubeck Collection (Holt-Atherton Special Collections)

Brubeck Institute

Patti McCarthy is interviewed about the documentary by Paul Conley for this segment on Capital Public Radio. Click on the audio link under the Brubeck photo near the "Happy Birthday Dave" heading.


Brubeck photographs from Brubeck Collection, Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library