During Saturday evening’s “Brubeck’s Play Brubeck” concert at Wilton Library, a very special announcement was made by library officials and the family of the late jazz legend Dave Brubeck announced tonight that the Brubeck Collection, formerly housed at University of the Pacific in California, has found its way home to Wilton Library. The collection is a treasure trove of musical recordings, correspondence, legal and business documents, photographs, manuscripts, and memorabilia from Dave and Iola Brubeck, two of contemporary jazz’s greatest contributors.
Elaine Tai-Lauria, executive director of Wilton Library, said, “We are thrilled to be welcoming this prestigious archival collection into Wilton Library. The Brubeck Family and the library have had such a wonderful, long-standing relationship, that it is fitting all this important documentation be housed here. The library also is the home of the Wilton History Room, so the synergy is perfect for the collection to reside here.”
Chris Brubeck, one of Dave and Iola’s sons, said of the decision, “Wilton was the town where my siblings and I grew up; it was the town where my dad came home to after each of his tours; and it was the town where we often enjoyed playing with him as musicians. So, our family agreed that Wilton Library is the right place for this notable collection.”
Initial plans for this endeavor are underway including a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will be part of the library’s celebration of Dave’s centennial. A room will be reconfigured to house the archival collection, opening this year, and the collection will be available for research by appointment to musicologists, historians, jazz aficionados, and the public, as well as in an online presence for digital research. The room will have a study desk/listening station, computer for access to digital recordings, and all the catalogued materials, which include thousands of albums, manuscripts and notes, and photographs–essentially one of the premier jazz collections in the world.
Dave Brubeck was a jazz legend whose music transcended the jazz world and launched him into what today would be called pop culture or mainstream with his “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” recordings from his seminal 1959 “Time Out” album. Beyond his renowned jazz influence, he composed ballets, musicals, a mass, and large-scale orchestrations. He was a favorite among jazz followers making many appearances at Newport, Kool jazz festivals, Monterey, Concord and several performances at the White House. In 2009, he was a Kennedy Center honoree.
Dave met his future wife, Iola Whitlock, while they were both students at the College of the Pacific. She became his collaborator in life and in music, raising six children along the way and writing myriad lyrics for his compositions. Dave Brubeck passed away in 2012; Iola Brubeck passed in 2014.
Tai-Lauria continued, “The Brubeck family’s connection to Wilton Library is so special. Dave, Darius, Dan and Chris have selflessly performed in countless concerts to help raise funds for our library. Chris, who still lives in Wilton, created the “WaterWorks” symphony in 2003 for the library’s Evening of the Arts fundraiser. Chris and his wife, Tish, initiated our Hot & Cool: Jazz at the Brubeck Room concerts in which their influence brings world-class musicians to our audiences–for which we are forever grateful. We are honored to be stewards of the Brubeck Collection.”
The Brubeck Room, a 150-seat performance space that was created specifically for concerts, lectures, and authors, was named for Dave and his family in 2006 during the library’s major expansion.
Pictured above: Chris and Tish Brubeck, Dan Brubeck, Elaine Tai-Lauria, executive director of Wilton Library, Darius and Cathy Brubeck celebrate the collaboration to bring the Brubeck Collection to Wilton Library.