Oct. 16, 2001

“Take Five” with Dave Brubeck

Legendary Jazz Innovator, Composer, Pianist to Perform at GW and Receive a President’s Medal

By Thomas Kohout

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck will perform at the 13th annual President’s Night Thursday, Oct. 18, in Lisner Auditorium. A celebrated composer and pianist, Brubeck will join a distinguished list of performers who have lent their talents to the event, including The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins, and Victor Borge among others.

The President’s Night series was established to honor the members of GW’s donor societies as well as the University’s friends throughout the Washington, DC, metropolitan community. This year, three students from the Department of Music will have the opportunity to perform on stage with Brubeck during his final number, the jazz standard “Take the A-Train.”

“Just to be able to say ‘One time I played with Dave Brubeck,’ is a great experience,” says Roy Guenther, chair of the music department. The students selected to perform are Steve Rogers, on tenor saxophone; Steve Kaplan, on trumpet; and Adam Kleiner, on alto saxophone.

“They’re all strong jazz musicians,” says Guenther. “We felt they would get a lot out of the experience as well as have the ability necessary to add something to the event and be able to stand up with that kind of talent.”

The level of talent to which Guenther refers is that of composer/pianist Brubeck, who along with drummer Joe Morello, double bassist Eugene Wright, and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, quickly achieved an overwhelming popular success. For nearly five decades Brubeck has been a leader in the jazz world, with ground-breaking works such as “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Take Five,” in which the artist toyed with unusual time signatures. Among his most significant recordings are “Jazz At Oberlin” (1953, Fantasy), “Jazz Goes To College” (1954, Columbia), “Time Out” (1959, Columbia), “Time Further Out” (1961, Columbia), and “Just You, Just Me” (1994, Telarc).

As part of the event Brubeck will be presented with The George Washington University President’s Medal in appreciation of his contribution to music. The medal represents the highest honor awarded by President Trachtenberg. With the presentation, Brubeck becomes the 40th member of a uniquely elite group including of recipients including president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN and former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, broadcaster Walter Cronkite, and Ambassador of Japan Nobuo Matsunaga among many other noted figures.

“It’s very exciting, it always is,” Guenther adds about the annual celebration. “For the guests of this event, who have demonstrated their generosity to GW, this enables the University to showcase how their support has benefited our students.”


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