David Van Kriedt

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.

David was born in Berkeley, California, USA. 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. 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. 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 sometime 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. The music on this recording was listed under best album of the year. 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 none other than Edvard Grieg (1843 –1907). Returning to Mills College in 1952 as an outstanding academic, van Kriedt won first prize in Graduate Composition.

Read more about David Van Kriedt:  Stan Kenton Band, Dave Brubeck Reunion, Later Life

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