Brubeck a Concord native with international acclaim

Brubeck a Concord native with international acclaim

Brubeck a Concord native with international acclaim
Dave Brubeck.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY—A hundred years ago, David Brubeck was born in Concord. His mother began teaching him to play the piano when he was 4, and he grew up to become an internationally acclaimed jazz musician and composer.

The album “Time Out Takes” was recently released to celebrate his centenary. Tracks include works in progress such as “Take Five” and “Watusi Jam.” Another recent album, “Lullabies,” features two versions of Brahms’s “Lullaby” and other children’s songs.

Concord was so proud of their native son that they named Dave Brubeck Park for him. The eight-acre site is on Concord Boulevard, nestled between Concord High and the Stonebrook Healthcare Center. The park was known as the Concord Neighborhood Park until May 2006, according to park supervisor Tyce Dekker. Brubeck and his wife Iola attended the renaming ceremony. Brubeck died in 2012.

Jazz Festival

In 1969, Carl Jefferson, an automobile dealership owner, persuaded friends to help him, and together with the city, they created the Concord Jazz Festival on an undeveloped field next to Concord High School. About 17,000 attended the first festival to hear artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Pearl Bailey and Brubeck.

When the Jazz Festival became an annual event, Jefferson proposed that a better venue was needed – one that included the casual seating of the Concord Boulevard site as well as permanent seating. The Concord Pavilion was the result of his proposal.

In 1973, the city of Concord and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District joined together to build the pavilion. It opened on May 16, 1975, with performances by Sarah Vaughn and Henry Mancini. Through the years, high school bands played “Pomp and Circumstance” as local graduates stepped forward to receive diplomas on the stage each June.

Brubeck Park

Brubeck a Concord native with international acclaimThe raised mound on which many famous jazz musicians and singers performed remains in Brubeck Park. For many years, a church group presented a patriotic program called “The Singing Flag” on the Fourth of July. Members of the church choir were on risers that were part of a large flag backdrop. A spectacular fireworks display accompanied the rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that concluded the event.

The 25th anniversary performance of “The Singing Flag” was to be its final one. Since then, the park has hosted displays of cars but no more jazz. Fortunately, Brubeck’s music can still be heard.

A History Note is presented by the Contra Costa County History Center, 724 Escobar St., Martinez, using materials from the society’s collections. The History Center is closed due to the coronavirus; check out the website at or join us on Facebook at