Brubeck became a Catholic in 1980, shortly after completing this Mass, which had been commissioned by Ed Murray, editor of the national Catholic weekly Our Sunday Visitor.
Many of Dave Brubeck’s compositions have become jazz standards. Think of, for instance, “The Duke,” “In Your Own Sweet Way,” or the classic “Take Five.” Trained as a classical musician, his improvisational skills made him one of the most prominent exponents of cool jazz, a subgenre that, unlike bebop, is characterized by relatively lighter tones and more relaxed tempos (although Brubeck surely superimposed time signatures, tones, and meters in his work, as in his famous “Blue Rondò A La Turk”).
However, relatively less known are his orchestral and sacred music works, including his rendition of the Mass in the Revised Roman Ritual, called “To Hope! A Celebration!” originally released in 1980, featuring Brubeck himself on the piano, the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus, and the Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church Handbell Choir. The Mass had been commissioned by Ed Murray, who was then the editor of the national Catholic weekly Our Sunday Visitor, and who played a central role in Brubeck’s own conversion.
Brubeck became a Catholic in 1980, shortly after completing this Mass. Although he surely had some spiritual anxieties and inclinations before his conversion, he famously said, “I didn’t convert to Catholicism, because I wasn’t anything to convert from. I just joined the Catholic Church.”
In 2006, Brubeck was awarded the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics.
Here, we share with you a fragment of Brubeck’s Mass, as played in Moscow, in 1997.