October 1, 2009 / 7:40 PM / 10 years ago

Dave Brubeck joins Brazilian orchestra for concert

NEW YORK, Oct 1 (Reuters Life) - American jazz legend Dave Brubeck will join his long-time friend Brazilian pianist and conductor Joao Carlos Martins and his orchestra on Friday to play a Bach-inspired repertoire.

Long time friends, Brazilian pianist and conductor Joao Carlos Martins (L) and Dave Brubeck pose for a photo at Brubeck's home in Connecticut in July 2009. Both musicians will play Friday at the Lincoln Center in New York in a concert inspired by Bach and Brazilian music. REUTERS/Yvette Gallardo D'Elia/Handout

The concert at Lincoln Center will celebrate decades of musical dialogue between the two men who share a passion for composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

Both musicians had a breakthrough in their careers 50 years ago when Brubeck launched his now jazz classic work “Time Out,” and Martins was acclaimed at Carnegie Hall as one of the top Bach interpreters of his generation.

“This will be a concert with 150 years of history, because it also marks the death of (Brazilian composer) Heitor Villa-Lobos,” Martins told Reuters.

Martins made a comeback as a conductor about five years ago after several injuries to both his hands halted his musical career. He also suffered severe skull and brain injuries after being mugged in Sofia in 1995 following a recording session.

His orchestra, the Bachiana Filarmonica, an ensemble of more than 40 musicians, will pay a tribute to Villa-Lobos by performing his Bachianas number 7 and 4 at the concert.

Villa-Lobos, who was inspired by Bach and is considered the greatest Brazilian composer, brought traditional Brazilian rhythms to his classical compositions in the 1920’s and 1930’s.


Brubeck and Martins met for the first time in Anchorage, Alaska in the early 1970’s, when Brubeck listened to Martins playing piano.

“Here was someone playing Bach the way I imagined it should be played — swinging, full of vitality, rhythmic drive and passion,” Brubeck said about his friend.

Brubeck, 88, will perform “Brandenburg Gate: Revisited” at the concert. He composed the piece after a stressful trip to communist East Berlin in 1958 during a State Department sponsored tour to get transit visas to enter Poland with his Quartet.

His son, trombonist Chris Brubeck, will also join the concert.

At the end of the concert both pianists will play “Thank You,” a Brubeck composition that pays homage to Frederic Chopin. Martins will play using only three fingers.

“In Joao Carlo’s life there has been much to cry about, yet his spirit has never been crushed,” Brubeck wrote about Martins.

“When we last sat down to two pianos to play together, my heart ached for him, because I knew how I would feel had I been so horribly injured by a senseless, criminal attack. That his great musical mind has now turned to conducting is a blessing for him and for those fortunate enough to hear his performances,” he added.

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