Alan Dawson Recalls a Brubeck Bandstand Debacle
Retold by Terry MacDonald
The late, legendary Alan Dawson, who was the drummer in the Dave Brubeck Quartet for several years during the ’60s, having succeeded Joe Morello, used to enjoy sharing this memory from that time.
The quartet was performing for an appreciative audience one night. In the course of playing a drum solo, Alan was vocalizing along with his playing. As he was concluding his final solo chorus, the band prepared to return to the tune’s “head.”
Something very bad happened, though. It seems that when Alan was singing along with his playing, he was singing in a different key than the one the quartet had started in. Brubeck, having perfect pitch, returned to the head in the key he heard Alan playing, while of course the rest of the band played it in the original key.