Decreed a "living legend" by no less than the Library of Congress, pianist Dave Brubeck continues a robust career at age 87, playing with sprightly elegance and leading a superbly honed quartet, three-quarters of which has been intact for nearly three decades. Brubeck's 60-something years as a working musician have been especially memorable because he has enjoyed substantial popular acclaim—especially during the 1950s and early '60s—while playing a cerebral strain of jazz featuring odd time signatures, polytonality, quirky harmonies, and striking counterpoint. Brubeck's original quartet, significantly including alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, produced such jazz/cultural touchstones as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk." As a composer, Brubeck also has been an innovator in integrating jazz and classical music, and has written works for orchestras, choral groups, chamber ensembles, and ballets. His latest album, 2007's Indian Summer (Telarc), is a gorgeous solo piano set that features reflective, autumnal tunes such as Kurt Weill's "September Song" and standards like "Georgia on My Mind." Although the theme would seem to be bittersweet, Brubeck plays with such sparkling spirit and imagination that the songs bask in a sunny glow.
Sun., May 25, 7 p.m., 2008