David van Kriedt

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Dave Van Kriedt - Circa 1975

David van Kriedt (June 19, 1922 – September 29, 1994) was a composer, saxophonist and music teacher.

While Dave Brubeck (1920–2012) and Paul Desmond (1924–1977), became world jazz celebrities, the musician responsible for establishing their partnership was American tenor saxophonist, composer and arranger David van Kriedt.[1]

David was born in Berkeley, California, United States. He spent three years at Mills College in Oakland, California, studying composition with Darius Milhaud (1892–1974), and formed, with fellow students, The Jazz Workshop Ensemble. Later they became known as The Eight and subsequently the Dave Brubeck Octet. Mills College in 1946 was where eight young music students recorded Dave Brubeck's Curtain Music, the personnel for the Octet was, Brubeck – piano; Paul Desmond - alto saxophone; Dave Van Kriedt - tenor saxophone; Bill Smith - clarinet; Dick Collins - trumpet; Bob Collins - trombone; Jack Weeks - bass; Cal Tjader - drums.

The octet played only a few concerts in three years, as club owners were scared by the advanced non-commercial music.[citation needed] In three years at both San Francisco State and Mills College, van Kriedt became proficient in voice and practically every instrument. In 1950 with the same personnel, The Octet recorded an album that today is as fresh and exciting to hear as it was then.[citation needed] Van Kriedt was the most influential contributor to The Octet, both composing the majority of originals and arranging the standards for it. In fact in 1951 when Russian composer Igor Stravinsky was lecturing at U.C.L.A., he used van Kriedt’s composition ‘Fugue on Bop Themes’ to demonstrate to students the true art of counterpoint.

In 1950 Van Kriedt, Brubeck and wife Iola and their sons, Cal Tjader; Jack Weeks (bassist), all relocated to Honolulu for some time before going their own separate ways once again.

In 1948 while still a Mills College student, van Kriedt ventured to France, where he recorded with Kenny Clarke’s Be Bop Minstrels. Van Kriedt fitted in very well with the exciting Paris Jazz scene, and had the opportunity to jam with guitarist Django Reinhardt. While in Europe, van Kriedt traveled to Norway to meet some family members and learnt that his maternal grandfather, Ollie Clausen, an organist, had given music lessons to Edvard Grieg (1843 –1907). Returning to Mills College in 1952, van Kriedt won first prize in graduate composition.

Stan Kenton Band[edit]

In 1955 van Kriedt joined The Stan Kenton band on tenor saxophone and during his nine months with the band recorded one of Kenton’s most definitive albums Contemporary Concepts, featuring arrangements by Bill Holman and one by Gerry Mulligan. In this band Van Kriedt played with musicians including Bill Perkins – tenor sax; Lennie Niehaus and Charlie Mariano - both alto sax; Don Davidson – baritone sax; Carl Fontana - Bob Fitzpatrick – Kent Larson - Gus Chappell – Don Kelly - trombones; Ed Leddy - Bobby Clark - Al Porcino – Sam Noto – Stu Williamson – trumpets; Ralph Blaze - guitar; Max Bennett – bass and Mel Lewis – drums. The album was recorded at Universal Studios in Chicago on July 22, 1955. Van Kriedt toured throughout the United States and Canada and was the featured arranger with the band, appearing at jazz clubs such as the Blue Note in Chicago and Birdland in New York City.

Dave Brubeck Reunion[edit]

The 1957 Dave Brubeck’s album Reunion was a quintet session featuring eight Van Kriedt compositions: "Strolling", "Shouts", "Prelude", "Divertimento", "Chorale", "Leo's Place", "Darien Mode" and "Pieta". Reunion features a full–voiced Van Kriedt on Tenor (with hand towel in sax bell, to mute his huge sound). Paul Desmond – alto; Brubeck – piano; Norman Bates – bass and Joe Morello – drums. Reunion displays Van Kriedt’s great skills both as soloist and composer.

Later life[edit]

In 1985, van Kriedt lectured in composition for a semester at the Northern Rivers CAE in Lismore, NSW, Australia. Students remember him[citation needed] as full of life and pushing them to explore their boundaries at every step. He died, aged 72, in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.


"Dave Brubeck Remembers Paul Desmond" - The following is taken from a film interview recorded at the Montreal Jazz Festival, June 28, 1991. Producer/Interviewer: Paul Caulfield for Mirus Communications Inc. [2]

Article published by Phil Wright (Jazz Journalist, Historian) [3]