Wynton and Dave Brubeck playing at Newport Jazz Festival

NEWPORT, R.I. – Dave Brubeck and Wynton Marsalis have often crossed paths over the years, but at this year’s JVC Jazz Festival-Newport, the two jazz stars finally got a chance to perform together.

On Saturday, Marsalis’ quintet played a set of tunes from last year’s album, “The Magic Hour,” and the trumpeter returned on the festival’s closing day to sit in with Brubeck’s quartet for two tunes.

Marsalis’ trumpet warmly caressed the George Gershwin ballad “Embraceable You” – enhanced by Brubeck’s sensitive piano accompaniment. And they surprised the audience by closing the set not with the Brubeck quartet’s signature tune, “Take Five,” but with a rollicking version of the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s theme, “Take the ‘A’ Train.”

That drew a standing ovation from the crowd filling the field in front of the main stage set against the stone walls of the 19th-century Fort Adams, punctuated by horn blasts from fans in their boats anchored in Narragansett Bay.

“We’ve seen each other a lot of times, but it’s the first time we had played … and it was great,” Marsalis, 43, told The Associated Press after Sunday’s set. “Nobody really plays like Dave now. … It was warm and down-home and just felt good.
“I’ve always loved Dave as a man and as a musician … he’s always just a gentleman, a man with a dignity.”

The 84-year-old Brubeck, who has performed at the Newport festival more times than any other musician over the past half-century, said he and Marsalis found an instant rapport.

“We immediately gelled and we both were hearing things together and feeling the beat together,” said Brubeck, who is composing the missing portions for four sections of Mozart’s “Mass in C Minor” on a request from the Pacific Mozart Ensemble. “We both had a wonderful ball … it was a fun, enjoyable musical experience.”

By CHARLES J. GANS, Associated Press Writer

Wynton Marsalis playing with Dave Brubeck
Photo by: The Associated Press/Jacqueline Marque

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  1. I was at the Lawrence Neighborhood Servive Center for the honoring of Wynton, Chandra Rubin and Fred Vereen Jr. I am so glad that he could attend the event. It meant a lot to thise who planned it and mostly to the children. I think your playing with them is something they will always remember!! Thank you for your service to the community and to children

    Deborah Allen-Sm

    Deborah Allen-Smith on Aug 18th, 2005 at 11:09am

  2. Wynton
    I enjoyed hearing you play embracable you and a train this weeken with Brubeck. You’re awesome technically, it was nice to hear you play a “melody” though, you know what I’m saying? I was tappin my foot to the melody, and you must have heard the way the crowd got really animated when you busted out with that melody. You coming to boston soon, right?
    You are the man.

    Daniel Ackroyd on Aug 18th, 2005 at 11:09am

  3. This performance was definitely one of the highlights of the festival. The rapport Wynton shared with Dave Brubeck was priceless. I am still moved by the sounds of Embraceable You and the beauty of pure musicianship witnessed on that day.

    Sonalii on Aug 17th, 2005 at 11:08am