(See Cover) Pianist David Brubeck, described by fans as a wigging cat with a far-out wail* and by more conventional critics as probably the most exciting new jazz artist at work today, has strong ideas about how his audiences should behave while he plays. There should be no loud joking or talking; no table-hopping; no eating. Drinking, if absolutely necessary, should be done in moderation. "Some people," he says with horror, "plunk a full bottle of Bourbon down on a table right in front of the bandstandyou know the sort that will order a whole bottle." Brubeck does not feel that way because he is egotistical but because he takes his work with a deep, almost mystical seriousness. When he is up on the platform, with the tempo whipping about his ears and no notion where the next idea will come from, he has a devout confidence that it will comeand it always does.
Normally as peaceable as a lullaby, Brubeck has been known to come off the bandstand in the middle of a number and threaten to silence a noisy customer with his muscular hands, which, until a few years ago, were expert at roping cattle. But it has been quite a while since he has been forced to such extremes with audiences. Nowadays, people listen.
They listen to some of the strangest and loveliest music ever played since jazz was born. They listen in garish cellars and august concert halls. They listened last summer in Los Angeles' Zardi's, last month in Boston's Storyville and Manhattan's Basin Street, and a fortnight ago they listened and cheered him in Carnegie Hall. Last week they listened in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis as the Brubeck Quartet swung through the Midwest (as part of a jazz-concert package). Not everybody likes Brubeck's intense, quiet music; a lot of Bourbon drinkers still prefer the wilder, louder jazz that thrives on full bottles. But in a matter of five years, Brubeck fans have grown from a small, West Coast clique to a coast-to-coast crowdparticularly on college campuses. What people hear and cheer in Brubeck is not only a new type of jazz. It is the same exuberance that is causing a tremendous boom in all types of jazzthe birth of a new kind of jazz age in the U.S.
The New Jazz Age. Across the U.S. the joints are really flipping. In Manhattan, CLUBS JUMPING AGAIN front-paged The Billboard. "A flock of nighteries and eateries have switched or converted to a jazz policy," specified Variety. The story is repeated in many cities. The new jazz age has impressed even such a long-(and grey-) haired musician as Pianist Artur Rubinstein. "The Americans are taking jazz very seriously," says he. "There is so much money in it."