Cafe Jazz Corner: Brubeck Jazz Quintet’s Zach Brown

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Dave Short chats with Zach Brown of the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet (BIJQ), comprised of the five Brubeck Institute Fellows at University of the Pacific in Stockton. The Brubeck Fellowship Program is a one or two-year full-scholarship program in jazz performance for five musicians who have just graduated from high school. The Brubeck Fellows are students pursuing careers in jazz performance. The BIJQ has performed for the Monterey Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Brubeck Festival, Detroit International Jazz Festival, North Texas Jazz Festival, and many other concerts in California, New York, Washington, Florida, Chicago, Toronto, Minneapolis, Texas, Washington D.C., and on a State Department tour of Spain.


This is you second year at The Brubeck Institute’s jazz program at UOP. How do you like it, and how did an east coast musician like yourself find out about the Institute?

I liked the first year very much, and I’m glad I decided to stay on for the second year because it has been a fantastic experience. The program consists of theory and performance classes plus instruction by our own faculty, such as Dr. Joe Gilman, who provide us with formal lectures and individual instruction. The really unique thing about the Institute is that I can interact with some of the most talented young jazz musicians in the country who are at a similar place in their careers. In addition to three to seven performances each month, we get together informally to work on our own projects and ideas. This opportunity is really special to me.

What are your plans after you finish at Brubeck?

I plan to return to a music education program in New York or Boston. Although I love performing live, I’m also interested in recording and record producing as a career.

Although you are still a young musician, I’ll bet that you have already had some interesting performance experiences. What would you say has been the biggest performance of your career?

Last year I was performing at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival. We performed with notable players such as Paquito D’Rivera. At the last minute we were asked to perform at the White House. Wynton Marsalis sat in with us, and Michelle Obama sat in the front row. It was an unforgettable experience.


Yes, that is definitely big! What would you say was the most unusual performance you ever did?

Weddings can often be a challenge because you want to meet the requests of the couple, and their requests can be very specific. We did a wedding last year, and we were asked to play “The Girl From Ipanema” and a Latin medley for the wedding procession. Then we played “Clocks” by Coldplay for the recessional. For the reception we were asked to play “a jam session in the style of The Godfather.” We weren’t sure exactly what that meant, but did our best version of it. It all went very well, and the wedding party was pleased with the outcome, so that made us very happy. In a way it fit in with my philosophy, which is to not lock myself into a specific style but to explore all types and styles of bass playing.

That kind of versatility can be very difficult for musicians to master, but sometimes is taken for granted by the listener. Is there a particular bassist that you try to emulate?

Not really. I certainly listen to all of the great bassists and learn from them, but I try to play with my own style. I play both acoustic upright bass and electric bass, and have done a lot of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music in addition to mainstream modern jazz. Performing with Paquito D’Rivera has really introduced me to the Latin genre.

I wish I had time to talk to all of the members of your band. You all have phenomenal credentials, and I expect to hear a lot from all of you in the future. What can we expect to hear from you at Old City Hall on Dec. 6?

We will perform many of our original compositions, as well as some standards that everyone will recognize. Thank you for asking us to play in Redding.

See the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, at Old City Hall, Sunday Dec 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at Bernie’s Guitar and The Shasta County Arts Council. Students admission is free. Click here to learn more about the Brubeck Institute. 

daveshort-best1Dave Short M.D. is a Redding family physician. He has been active in the jazz scene since moving back home to Redding in 1980. He loves to play the tenor sax, and has recorded three albums with the band Sax Therapy. His favorite project is “Dave Short’s Jazz at Old City Hall,” a monthly concert series that features the finest north state jazz musicians. to learn more about Dave Short’s Jazz at Old City Hall, visit

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Jeff Jones says:

    Dave — I look forward to hearing this group. Nice interview. Jeff

  1. July 18, 2011

    […] Here's a video of him performing: •••••••••••••Check out Dave Short's interview with Zach Brown of the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet. The concert is set for 7 p.m. Sunday (Dec. […]