Chris Brubeck | Convergence

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by Chris Brubeck

Chris Brubeck's second orchestral cd of his compositions, featuring "Convergence" (commissioned by the Boston Pops), "River of Song" with Frederica von Stade, Soloist, and "Prague Concerto for Bass Trombone & Orchestra", Chris's second trombone concerto,
Genre: Classical: Orchestral
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Journey (Mvt I of Convergence
6:18 album only
2. Reminiscence in Blues (Mvt II of Convergence)
6:06 album only
3. La Grande Parade Du Funk (Mvt III of Convergence)
4:06 album only
4. Water (#1 of 6 Song Suite Featuring Frederica Von Stade)
2:20 album only
5. The Storm Is Coming (#2 of 6 Song Suite)
5:19 album only
6. Moon Song (#3 of 6 Song Suite Features Frederica Von Stade)
3:33 album only
7. Goldfish (#4 of 6 Song Suite)
2:44 album only
8. The River (#5 of 6 Song Suite)
2:48 album only
9. Maggie and Milly and Molly and May (#6 of 6)
5:56 album only
10. The Return of the Prince (Mvt I of Prague Concerto)
4:17 album only
11. Song of the Mountains (Mvt II of Prague Concerto)
7:53 album only
12. Dance of the Neocons (Mvt III of Prague Concerto)
9:47 album only


Album Notes
"CONVERGENCE" on KOCH International Classics

"Convergence" (3 movements, C. Brubeck)
Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Paul Freeman, conductor

"River of Song" (6 movements, C. Brubeck)
The Tassajara Symphony, Sara Jobin, conductor
Frederica von Stade & Rachel Luxon, Soloists

"Prague Concerto for Bass Trombone & Orchestra" (3 movements, C. Brubeck)
Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Paul Freeman, conductor
Chris Brubeck, Bass Trombone

“Chris Brubeck has jazz in his blood, rock in his soul, and a developing career in classical composition. … In just a few years he’s created a repertoire that could be the true crossover material: work that demonstrates a keen knowledge of and talent for jazz, popular, and classical idioms.” Symphony Magazine, December, 2002

This composer, trombonist, bassist, pianist, singer, guitarist and all around musical bon vivant is, in fact, one of the many talented members of the Brubeck family. As a composer, Chris represents all that is fascinating about Americana: the diversity, the spirit, the surface hijinks that play just above untold hidden depths, the soulful simplicity and homespun musicality that defined America in earlier, more innocent times — part Copland, part Duke Ellington, part wide open spaces, part New Orleans. Brubeck’s America is the America of Mark Twain, of the Gershwins, of Charles Ives, of speakeasies and be-bop jazz joints, elegant concert halls and funky R&B clubs. His wild, unpredictable works celebrate this unrestricted eclecticism, drawing comparisons to David Amram and Edgar Meyer, to name a few, yet doing what he does in a singular, exceptional, deeply personal way. But do not mistake this easy stylistic careening for naiveté. As a composer, there’s a reason for every well-chosen note.

“Without putting too much of an onus on Chris Brubeck,” says Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, “we’re always looking for the new Gershwins who can take the sounds in American popular musical culture and integrate them into the context of the orchestra, much the way Gershwin and Bernstein did.” Lockhart would know, being not only the innovative leader of the nation’s most highly regarded Pops Orchestra, but the driving force behind the commission of Convergence, Brubeck’s fascinating concerto for orchestra. Like any good bandleader, Lockhart raises the bar by programming new music which evokes substance over flash. In this case, Brubeck’s flashy, fun work is, at heart, no laughing matter and is regarded as a challenging and serious work.

"Convergence", which the Boston Globe referred to as “a bravura premiere… the most ambitious work ever commissioned by the Pops,” is cast in three movements and clocks in at around a quarter of an hour. It is structured much like a conventional orchestral work: two fast movements bookend a slow one. In the case of Convergence, the form is turned on its ear slightly. While the opening movement, “The Journey” progresses from antiphonal brass to the string section whipping through a crazed Eastern- European folk dance, it winds up as an adventurous romp leading to the final fanfare which restates the opening brass motif. This melts into a genteel, elegant slow second movement, “Reminiscence in Blues” where things take a turn to the South — in this case New Orleans. A lilting, offstage trumpet solo in the distance closes the second movement, reminiscent, perhaps, of the most famous dearly departed resident of The Big Easy, Louis Armstrong. Elegance gives way to a march, as the final movement collides into the prior. An off-stage marching band in 7/4 time competes with the on-stage orchestra playing in 4/4 time and quiet bayou gentility gives way to the furious-but-fun mood of Mardi Gras. There is an exciting intermingling of tonalities and rhythms and in the midst of this fray begins the third movement “La Grande Parade du Funk.” Brubeck does not dress "Convergence" in a powdered wig for the benefit of the concert audience; rather, players are, one would imagine, encouraged in the score to go for broke — and on this recording, they certainly do.

"River of Song" is a composition with an entirely different set of sensibilities. This commission brings together diversely talented individuals from different generations. The inspiration for this music comes from the facile and creative minds of young poets aged 5 -13, who were winners of a national poetry contest and ultimately published in a volume titled “River of Words.” Brubeck’s music was completely shaped by the texts and the spirit of their poetry. Frederica von Stade, as a champion of music education and a friend of Chris Brubeck and conductor Sara Jobin, agreed to sing the new work. She thought it appropriate to add a second voice to the pieces, and Rachel Luxon joined her in performing the premiere. A remarkable young jazz pianist, Taylor Eigsti (18 at the time of this recording), joined the ranks as well to perform the improvised piano solos.

Von Stade said of the work, “Singing River of Song is always a special event as the poetry was written by children and the piece was conceived for children so it has a great significance. Plus, who can resist the beautiful and touching melodies of Chris Brubeck, his imagination, his humor and his affection not just for music but the whole human race!”

"The Prague Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra", Brubeck’s second concerto for his principal instrument, features the composer as soloist. After an exciting and well- received performance of his first concerto in Prague, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra asked Chris to return the following year and premiere a new concerto with them. Hence the birth of the Prague Concerto, which was a tremendous success, garnering the musicians six curtain calls from the exuberant audience. This work is also cast in three separate movements — “The Return of the Prince”, “Song of the Mountains”, and “Dance of the Neocons” — and is also favored by rapid stylistic shifts and a quirky eclecticism.

The first movement, the shortest, gives a nod to the concertos of the past with a zealous march through a number of styles, though with a consistency of flare that makes the section a satisfying, single whole. The second movement is an odd, brooding sound world, which features gorgeous, gossamer-textured strings pitted against the trombone in its murkiest — and saddest — register. A trio of flute, bassoon and French horn plays from a balcony at the rear of the concert hall. The bass trombone joins them to form an unusual quartet. From there the movement weaves through a number of styles, eventually returning to the balcony trio. The final movement is an ominous tour de force, more in the style of a true, barn-burning concerto. The solo part is part plaintive melody, part wild, wailing scatted song, evoking a sense of freedom, reading like improvised bebop jazz but with a more schematic, thought-out format coupled with a knock-out finale that packs a large wallop of orchestral intensity.

"Chris Brubeck's wonderful orchestrations and arrangements have proven that his understanding of the classical idiom is extraordinary." - Frederica von Stade

"He's got a hit on his hands, with a long life ahead of it." - Richard Dyer, Boston Globe

"[The pieces] dance and sing and drive forward, sparkling with bright yet subtle tone colors." - JazzTimes



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