Contemporary Jazz Finds Its Way to Cranbrook

For more than 60 years, the Cranbrook Music Guild has been providing chamber music to Oakland County residents. The Guild, started by a group of music lovers in 1951, wanted to promote and provide chamber music on the beautiful grounds of Cranbrook. Consequently, the first Cranbrook Festival was held during the summer that year. While the early years focused on presenting classical music, including performances by the Julliard String Quartet and the Detroit Symphony Wind Quartet, by 1959 the Guild members were looking to expand the roster and even included ballet in the summer program.

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Encouraged by the response during the 1959 season, the summer of 1960 featured the Michigan Chorale (a 100-mixed voice ensemble), the Severo Ballet accompanied by the DSO, and even a jazz concert in order to “present the best in all fields of art.” The first two performances were, as usual, held at the Greek Theatre. The third of the season was the Dave Brubeck Quartet. One Rochester [Michigan] News reporter called it “the Guild’s boldest experiment” to date. In anticipation of a capacity crowd, the performance was held at the football stadium at Cranbrook School instead of the Greek Theatre, which is a smaller venue.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Cranbrook School, July 14, 1960. Harvey Croze, photographer. Copyright Cranbrook Archives.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Cranbrook School, July 14, 1960. Harvey Croze, photographer. Copyright Cranbrook Archives.

In 1960, the members of The Dave Brubeck Quartet were Dave Brubeck (piano), Paul Desmond (alto saxophone), Joe Morello (drums), and Eugene Wright (double bass). The concert at Cranbrook was held on Sunday afternoon, July 14th at 4:30 pm. While the Guild was hopeful for a full house of 2,000, more than 1,100 people actually attended, still beating the Guild’s previous attendance record of 775.

Cranbrook Music Guild Records. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Cranbrook Music Guild Records. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

While I was not able to find any notes or articles about what the Quartet played at Cranbrook, it is highly likely that they played at least a few songs from their album, “Time Out,” which was recorded in 1959. Most of you will recognize the song “Take Five” from the album, which became one of their most popular. It is fun to imagine sitting outside at the stadium (now known as Thompson Oval) listening to this “new jazz.”

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Chris Morton for bringing this event to our attention!

 

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