Jazz legend Dave Brubeck is loved and respected around the world — and especially here in Salt Lake City.
So it is somewhat bittersweet to welcome him for his last Utah performance. "I think this is the sixth time that Dave's been here," said GAM Foundation producer and co-founder Gordon Hanks. "Unfortunately, this will be the last time we'll ever be able to have Dave in Salt Lake, because of health reasons and for travel considerations, and of course, the altitude's a bit of a problem. It's difficult for him to really come to Salt Lake again. This is it."
Hanks said that the 86-year-old pianist is considered one of the five most influential jazz musicians who has ever lived. With all the respect and weight his name carries, the Dave Brubeck Quartet was the perfect choice for a fund-raising concert to benefit the GAM Foundation, so that it can continue sponsoring the annual 10-concert JazzSLC series at the same artistic level it's achieved over the past 14 years.
The event will be hosted by the Merit Medical Systems through its outreach program, which recognizes the GAM Foundation's educational component. Many of the artists who come in for the concert series also teach workshops for students, with 350 tickets per concert donated to students in some 45 local schools and universities.
In fact, it is the educational component that may have persuaded Brubeck to make this final visit. "Dave and I, over the last 12 years, have developed this mutual respect for both of our goals as far as jazz education and exposing young people to this incredible art form," said Hanks. "Dave has the Brubeck Institute at the University of Pacific (in Stockton, Calif.), which is one of his great legacies, and we've had a wonderful relationship, in that they've always felt strongly that what we are doing is very important as far as young people and exposing them to this great art."
In addition to bringing in the artists and donating tickets, Hanks said the GAM Foundation tries to create a musically intimate setting that puts the focus on the performer and is wholesome enough for jazz fans of any age.
The Brubeck concert, said Hanks, is not only a fund-raiser but also a capstone for an exciting 2007-08 concert series. "We have a sensational mix of multi-Grammy Award-winning artists who represent the very best in all genres of jazz."
Award-winning singers Dianne Reeves and Tierney Sutton will be vocal highlights. Father-son guitar duo John and Bucky Pizzarelli played the season opener. And violinist Regina Carte was one of 20 people this year to receive the MacArthur Genius Grant.
Two of the concerts will feature Brazilian music: Katia Moraes and Sambaguru, and "The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim." The Jobim concert, said Hanks, will feature flutist Holly Hoffman, drummer Jeff Hamilton, guitarist Mike Wofford and bassist Christof Luty, plus 16 strings from the Utah Symphony, and Brazilian guitar and percussion.
"We also have special artists for the first time performing for the JazzSLC," said Hanks. "We have the modern hop, funk and soul jazz saxophonist Javon Jackson, with Dr. Lonnie Smith on the Hammond B3. We have Downbeat's Jazz Artist of the Year Brad Mehldau. And we have trumpeter Jon Faddis, who is often compared to the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, and three-time-Grammy nominee vibraphonist Stefon Harris, with an avant-garde approach to jazz."
If you go . . .
What: Dave Brubeck
Where: Abravanel Hall, 123 S. West Temple
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
How much: $20-$45; $75 (includes post-concert reception)