Though he was born in the late 17th century, the impact of J.S. Bach's music created profound ripples throughout music history. Among the figures influenced by his works, one encounters names such as Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg and more. Outside of the "classical" idiom, Bach would inspire many artists in the jazz world. There is perhaps no greater example of this than the legendary American pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck. During this program, Dr. Gil Harel (Assistant Professor of Music, NVCC) will discuss the connection between these remarkable musicians born 235 years apart. He will be joined in this endeavor by famed performer, composer, and son of Dave Brubeck, Chris Brubeck. Mixing academic presentation with anecdotal reflection, this program will delve into topics including figured bass notation and its similarity to the jazz "lead sheet," the mysterious nature of improvisation, and how Brubeck's music reflects the influence of the prolific Bach in many ways.
Gil Harel (PhD, Brandeis University) is a musicologist and music theorist whose interests include styles ranging from western classical repertoire to jazz. Previously, he has served on the faculty at CUNY Baruch College, where he was awarded the prestigious "Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching" as well as the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China. He is now Assistant Professor of Music at Naugatuck Valley Community College where he has been presented with the "Merit Award for Exemplary Service to the College" for 3 consecutive years. Most recently, he was chosen as the winner of the 2019-20 Board of Regents system-wide teaching award. At NVCC, Dr. Harel conducts the college chorale, a cappella ensemble, teaches music history and theory, and serves as musical director of theater productions. Outside of teaching, he remains active as a keyboardist, vocalist, and arranger.
Chris Brubeck is a Grammy-nominated composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist (fretless bass, bass trombone and piano). His guitar concerto, which he wrote for Sharon Isbin, is the title track on her new recording: Affinity. In addition to writing, Chris has spent his career on tour with his own bands: the Brubeck Brothers Quartet (with brother Dan on drums), and Triple Play, an acoustic trio featuring Chris on piano, bass and trombone along with guitarist Joel Brown and harmonica player extraordinaire Peter Madcat Ruth. Chris also performs as a soloist playing his trombone concertos with orchestras around the world and has served as Artist and/or Composer in Residence with orchestras and colleges in America, coaching, lecturing, and performing with students and faculty. Chris was a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet for 16 years and was a frequent guest artist with the Quartet before and after that time period. He was featured on dozens of recordings with the DBQ and had the pleasure of playing all the great jazz festivals in the world. Chris is an advocate for arts education and serves on the advisory boards of the Norwalk Youth Symphony, and Classical Tahoe, and is on the honorary board for the Tennessee Arts Academy. He is also a founding director of "Brubeck Living Legacy" a non-profit founded by the Brubeck family to honor and continue the legacy of their parents, Dave and Iola Brubeck.