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The Brubeck Festival 2004

The Brubeck Festival 2004

The Brubeck Festival 2004 was larger in concept and in scope that any past festival. It also had a central theme that focused the public's attention on a social issue of tremendous importance, the 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Speakers, panel discussions, films, an interfaith prayer and music service, and of course, concerts in Stockton, San Francisco, and Sacramento brought many together to examine one of the most important issues of our times.

Highlights of the event included an address by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, long a champion of and brilliant spokesman for the cause of racial justice in South Africa. For the first time, there were films shown at the festival including "Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony", the story of Black South African freedom music and its central role in the battle against apartheid. Also shown were Hedrick Smith's documentary film "Rediscovering Dave Brubeck" and the documentary film by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman called "Blacks and Jews", an exploration of relations between old allies and new adversaries. There was a round-table discussion and questions and answers regarding the civil rights era and Dave and Iola Brubeck's involvement in it. The session was moderated by Robert Benedetti, Director of the Jacoby Center at Pacific. There were also research presentations given by Jennifer Fredette, a political science major, whose paper was entitled "Beyond the Democratic Nightmare: Jazz in the Formation of a Subculture and its Politics", and by Lindsay Lovett, a music management major, whose paper was entitled "San Francisco: Jazz, Ideas, and Culture: How a Community Influences a Nation."

Concerts were presented throughout the Brubeck Festival 2004 and included the Conservatory's Pacific Jazz Ensemble directed by Patrick Langham, Joe Gilman Trio, Brubeck Institute Jazz Sextet, The Young Sounds of San Joaquin directed by Brian Kendrick, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The focal point of all the performances, however, was the concert on April 7 in Faye Spanos Concert Hall and that was repeated on April 8 at the Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco that featured Dave Brubeck's monumental cantata The Gates of Justice. These performances of The Gates of Justice featured John De Haan, tenor (April 7), Cantor Alberto Mizrahi, tenor (April 8), Kevin Deas, bass-baritone, Pacific Mozart Ensemble-Richard Grant, director, Pacific Singers-Edward Cetto, director, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, and Russell Gloyd, conductor.

About The Gates of Justice
Jointly commissioned by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music, The Gates of Justice is a cantata for jazz trio, brass and percussion ensemble, chorus and two lead vocalists, a tenor cantor and a baritone. Though the piece has been performed several times since its premier with vocalists of different races and genders, Dave originally intended the tenor part to be sung by a bona fide cantor and the baritone by a Black singer familiar with the sonorities and style of spirituals and blues.

The text of The Gates of Justice integrates lyrics by Iola Brubeck, quotations from speeches by Martin Luther King, Negro spirituals and the Jewish sage Hillel, and passages from biblical and Hebrew liturgical texts. "Concentrating on the historic and spiritual parallels of Jews and American blacks," wrote Brubeck in his program notes for the premiere of The Gates of Justice, "I hoped through the juxtaposition and amalgamation of a variety of musical styles to construct a bridge upon which the universal theme of brotherhood could be communicated."

In exploring musical sources for his composition, Brubeck discovered several musical parallels between the two cultures, particularly among Hebraic chants, African-American spirituals and the blues. "Africa isn't that far from Jerusalem," Brubeck noted in a recent interview. The composition also incorporates brief musical quotations from the popular music of the late '60s, including songs by the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. And, being in part a celebration of jazz, which has its roots in the blues and African-American spirituals, the cantata includes several opportunities for jazz improvisation.

The Gates of Justice premiered at the 50th General Assembly of the UAHC on October 17, 1969, in Miami, Florida. "It was one of my favorite concerts," said Brubeck. "A piece would start, people would look down at their programs, then they would look right at the musicians and the singers because they knew every word of this piece by heart. They just absorbed it." More than thirty years after its premier, The Gates of Justiceand its message of unity remain as timely and relevant as ever. "We're at a time when this world could disappear on us," Brubeck said, "unless we really get down to believing in the original meaning of all the great religions - the brotherhood of man - and realizing that man is good."

---Reprinted courtesy of The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music.

The Brubeck Festival 2004 was organized and produced by Michael O'Daniel, Interim Director of the Brubeck Institute.