Thursday, September 29, 2011

Those Were the Days: Dave Brubeck Quartet

Dave Brubeck in Kabul (1958)

Sticking to the theme of better days of Afghanistan and its musical history, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that in the late 1950s and early 60s, Kabul was a regular stop for American musicians on their global tours. 
Duke Ellington touches down in Kabul

The Meridian International Center (about whose existence I was informed by an old dost, Hannah) has a wonderful site dedicated to documenting the history (albeit cultural and positive aspects, not so much the recent more ambivalent aspects) of American-Afghan relations. The Center’s basic premise that “cultural exchanges and exhibitions serve as catalysts for greater mutual understanding” is one I have no problem with and indeed endorse wholeheartedly. As another follower of the Dog said recently, "I've decided that MUSIC is just about the only thing that can be a force for Good in the world 'cause it's just about the only thing that can touch and move the human heart."

Kuchi lady

Today’s post features the West-coast jazz of the hugely popular (and not uncontroversial) Dave Brubeck.  His band visited Afghanistan in 1958 and soon thereafter released an album called Jazz Impressions of Eurasia. One of the tracks, Nomad was inspired by the Afghan kuchi nomads that tend the large herds of camels all across the southern and eastern parts of the country.
Transcript of "Nomad"

The album cover itself is a lot of fun. And historical. Not only is Pan Am such a cipher for a certain, more certain age of American involvement in the world but the goofy turban that Dave sports on his head is, I suppose, some art director’s attempt to bottle the essence of ‘East’.

Now all we can hope for is that one day soon such exchanges begin again. How about Bob Dylan in Badakhshan! Or JJ Cale visits Jalalabad. Or Mose Allison rocks Mazar-e-Sharif?!

I’ll be first in line. Let me know how many tickets you want!

            Track Listing:
01.  Nomad
02.  Brandenburg Gate
03.  The Golden Horn
04.  Thank you (Dziekuje)
05.  Marble Arch
06.  Calcutta Blues
Listen here

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