St. Brubeck and Time Changes

Time Changes, 1964

I’m sure that many of you well remember that jazz master, Dave Brubeck, died six years ago this month. I always liked him when I was alive, but I’ve certainly got to know him and his art much better since he passed onto the heavenly realm.

Given his extraordinary creativity and his equally extraordinary defense of the humane (especially against racism in the 1950s), I wonder if it’s time we start looking into the possible canonization of Brubeck.

While I have no idea if there are miracles associated with this life, I do know that the man lived and breathed a tangible grace in all that he did. And, not too surprisingly, he found his way into the Catholic Church, adding to an already stunning list of converts over the past century.

One of my single best purchases over the past year was of the boxed set of his five albums dealing with time, FOR ALL TIME, capturing his recordings from 1959 to 1965. It includes Time Out, Time Further Out, Time In, Countdown, and Time Changes. Unquestionably, his most famous album is the 1959, Time Out, fearing “Take Five.”

Yet, for me, the best album is his truly experimental, Time Changes. I suppose it’s the prog rock inside my soul, but the second side features only one song, the 16-plus minute “Elementals,” a piece that is equal parts classical composition and jazz. I simply can’t get enough of it.

When I listen to it, I feel as though I’m living inside a sacrament. It is just so utterly and deeply graceful.

God definitely touched the soul of Brubeck with something special, and I believe we would be fools to dismiss that gift to Brubeck and, ultimately, to ourselves.

St. Brubeck? Maybe. Let’s ask and find out.

Addendum (found after posting this piece). Brubeck’s agent tried to get him to replace Eugene Wright (a black American) with a white American. Brubeck who had been supporting black musicians since World War II adamantly refused. “Dave refused; the tour was cancelled at a great financial loss; but Dave’s message was clear“–reads a letter from his agent.