The “honorary uncle of the Brubeck family” was the last surviving member of the group that recorded Take Five and Blue Rondo à la Turk.
Jazz bassist Eugene Wright, the last remaining member of the classic lineup of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, died when he was 97. Dave Brubeck’s estate shared the news on Twitter, saying they were “deeply saddened” and adding that he “remained a good friend and honorary uncle of the Brubeck family to the end. “Wright, dubbed in jazz circles “The Senator” was born in Chicago in 1923 and first rose to prominence with the group Dukes of Swing as a young man playing cornet. He then taught the double bass himself and, playing under bandleaders such as Count Basie and Erroll Garner, became even more popular at the height of the swing era. He also played with Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker, and when the swing era ended, he displayed his versatility by playing bebop with Sonny Stitt and Latin jazz with Cal Tjader. However, his most famous work was with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, along with the bandleader on piano, Paul Desmond on alto saxophone and Joe Morello on drums, from 1958 to 1968. Wright played one of the most popular jazz pieces, ‘Take Five,’ as well as another hit, ‘Blue Rondo à la Turk,’ and released over 30 albums with the band. “grounded the group”grounded the group”play different tempos and do polyrhythmic things, and he would not stray from that grounded beat.”play various tempos and do polyrhythmic stuff, and he would not stray from that grounded beat.
It satirically discusses the role of musicians as cultural ambassadors during the Cold War and the prejudice that black jazz musicians – like Wright – frequently suffered in the United States, set in the fictional African nation of Talgalla. Concert promoters balked at making a black musician play alongside the rest of the white Brubeck Quartet when Wright joined the group, but Brubeck declined to perform without him. “We remember the challenges Gene and the quartet faced playing at segregated universities on their U.S. tours in the early 1960s.” the estate wrote on Twitter.