Chris Brubeck and TRIPLE PLAY at Bickford Theatre on Saturday 1/20

Chris Brubeck and TRIPLE PLAY at Bickford Theatre on Saturday 1/20

On Saturday, January 20, the Bickford Theatre of Morristown will present the son of a jazz legend who has become a musical star in his own right. Dave Brubeck's son, Chris Brubeck will perform with his group Triple Play whose good-time music draws on folk, blues, and jazz. Triple Play delivers an epic sojourn through American music unlike any other band today.

Joining Chris Brubeck in Triple Play are two exceptional musicians. Peter Madcat Ruth is a Grammy Award-winning virtuoso harmonica player who is equally at home playing jazz, blues, folk, country and just plain rock and roll. He studied with the legendary Chicago bluesman Big Walter Horton and has developed a reputation as one of the best and most versatile harmonica players in the world. He performs all over the world with Triple Play and with guitarist/singer Shari Kane in the duo Madcat & Kane.

And Singer/guitarist Joel Brown is Senior Artist-in-Residence at Skidmore College who maintains an active and eclectic performance schedule. In addition to being a regular member of Triple Play he is a much in-demand soloist and chamber musician. He has appeared with a variety of groups including the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, and the Boston Pops. He has appeared at Carnegie Hall, performed on NBC's Today Show, and has been featured on NPR. recently chatted with Chris Brubeck. He spoke with us about growing up in a musical family and shared some of his career accomplishments.

Chris is a Grammy-nominated composer, orchestral arranger, lyricist and performer. He plays three instruments: electric fretless bass, bass trombone and piano and is equally at home playing jazz, rock, classical, funk and folk music. This is evident when one listens to his various genre-bending compositions, including his "Vignettes for Nonet" written for the Brubeck Brothers Quartet and the talented woodwind quintet, the Imani Winds. In addition to his instrumental work with the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Chris plays, sings and records with his acoustic funk-blues group, Triple Play.

We asked Chris when he first discovered his penchant for music. "I think it was evident to me and my family when I started piano lessons at the age of 5. My father, being a wise man, wanted me to begin the process of understanding fundamental musical knowledge and the process of learning to play. Even though my dad was a true musical genius, he wasn't the one to give me the tools."

We wondered if Chris had a preference for one of the musical instruments that he plays. He told us that he has no real preference and commented, "I like the fact that I play three instruments a lot."

The home base for the Brubeck family was Montclair, California until they moved to Wilton, Connecticut in the early 1960's. We asked Chris if his father encouraged him and his brothers to become professional musicians. "He didn't care if we became musicians or not. He grew up on a ranch and actually started out as a cowboy working for a dollar a day. He began his musical career playing club gigs. Our family had to live lean. Traveling around at various hotels, my mom would make a crib bed in dresser drawers for me and my two older brothers, Darius and Mike, would sleep on blow-up mattresses in the closet. My dad understood that if we became musicians, there could be economic hardship and you have to make your own luck."

Chris also told us a little about his family history. His paternal grandmother Bessie was very cultured and went to Europe for a year to study with a student of Franz Liszt, taking her oldest son Henry with her while leaving her husband Pete Brubeck home with their other two sons, Howard and Dave. All three sons became musicians, with Dave starting his musical career playing honky-tonk piano at local dances. Dave met Chris's mother Iola when he attended University of Pacific Veterinary School. They decided to marry on their very first date to a college dance.

Chris told us a little more about his mother, Iola. "Not only did she raise six kids, but she also was a great lyricist." She was instrumental in launching Dave Brubeck's career. In the early years, Iola was his manager, booking him to play jazz at colleges and universities, something that hadn't been done before. Chris commented, "My mother really got my father's career hopping."

Chris has a fascinating history of playing music with his family. In 1972 he joined his father and brothers Darius and Daniel in The New Brubeck Quartet and later formed the Brubeck Brothers Quartet with brother, Dan. He commented about playing with his brothers. "I do like playing with my family. Every year, Dan, Darius, and I play a week in England at a famous club "Ronnie Scott's." It's a chance to play good music and just hang out as brothers."

Chris told us about some of the impressive musicians that he has had the pleasure to work with. He has collaborated with violinists Regina Carter, Eileen Ivers, and Nadja Salerno-Sonenberg when he wrote "Interplay for 3 Violins and Orchestra" which featured the three violinists playing with The Boston Pops. He has also worked with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Randy Brecker, and had an opportunity to jam with Willie Nelson. Chris toured extensively in his dad's groups for many years. He said the members of his father's original quartet were like honorary uncles. "I also grew up in the company of musical greats like BB King, Willie Nelson and Dizzy Gillespie. The list goes on and on."

It's not all about music for Chris Brubeck. He and his wife Tish like to travel, garden, and they have a large family that includes three grandchildren.

To learn more about Chris Brubeck, visit

Tickets for Chris Brubeck's Triple Play are $45 in advance and $50 at the door and may be purchased by calling the box office at 973-971-3706 or visiting The concert is on Saturday, January 20, at 8:00 pm. The Bickford Theatre is located at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown and offers free parking and full accessibility. Box office hours for phone sales are Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Walk-up hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Photo Credit: Morris Museum

Related Articles

View More New Jersey
Stories   Shows

From This Author Marina Kennedy

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram