Iola was Dave's early manager and came up with the jazz goes to college concept in the 1950s that helped catapult his visibility and popularity. She raised their six children while he was on the road, as much as nine months a year. And she wrote lyrics for a variety of his compositions, as well as the Brubeck recording staple "Take Five," which was composed by saxophonist Paul Desmond. In a few cases, Dave and Iola wrote the lyrics together.
|Dave and Iola Brubeck *|
In Sarasota, Harris was featured with her primary collaborator and arranger, pianist Ted Howe, as well as bassist Mark Neuenschwander, drummer Ric Craig and alto saxophonist Dan Jordan.
|Ted Howe, Karla Harris|
Howe's crafty arrangements transformed the feel of some of the original instrumental compositions in service to the lyrics, and Harris' vocal approach. For example, the buoyant ballad "In Your Own Sweet Way" was slowed and darkened to underscore Iola's pensive words.
The concert featured may Brubeck staples, such as his Ellington tribute "The Duke," "Take Five," and "My One Bad Habit," from the Brubecks' "The Real Ambassadors" project with Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. It also included "Strange Meadowlark," which Dave based on the call of the bird he heard growing up on his father's ranch in northern California.
It included one tune not associated with the Brubecks. Harris sang Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to" as a tribute to the couple's 70 years together. Harris and Howe followed with a poignant vocal-piano duet on "Weep No More," which Dave wrote for Iola that also spoke to his homecomings after extended time on the road.
Harris kicked things up a notch with two of Brubeck's blues numbers, "Far More Blue" and "Trav'lin Blues" Dave wrote the music and words to the former, Iola wrote the words to the latter.
"After doing this project, I'm now a huge Iola fan," Harris told the audience at the Riverview High School Performing Arts Center.
|Howe, Harris, Neuenschwander, Jordan, Craig|
* The Brubecks were photographed on September 4, 2004 at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in Lenox MA. © Ken Franckling