The Jazz Guardian Award is presented annually by Detroit Jazz Festival in recognition of an individual with Michigan ties who, through advocacy, teaching, philanthropy and/or musical achievement, has made an extraordinary contribution to the elevation and perpetuation of jazz.
The 2013 Jazz Guardians are Dave Brubeck (in memoriam) and Dan Pliskow.
Dave Brubeck is one of the most iconic jazz musicians of any generation. He and Miles Davis defined the sound and style of jazz during the late 1950s. Few musicians have remained so closely identified with our music for so many years.
Brubeck’s 60-plus year career was studded with creative peaks – experiments with time signatures, long-form compositions and different performance contexts. His piano sound was distinctive and impressive, especially before an audience. That was Dave at his best.
Dave Brubeck represented many good things about our music. He stood for equality, for honesty and for integrity, both as an artist and as a person. Like Duke Ellington, Brubeck avoided the obvious, and in doing so, he left his fans a unique and special legacy.
Detroit audiences loved Brubeck and his music. He first performed here at the Rouge Lounge, and returned to play at Detroit's first jazz festival at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in 1959. He played at the Detroit Jazz Festival several times, most recently in 2011.
We are pleased to posthumously present to Dave Brubeck’s family the Jazz Guardian Award.
Dan Pliskow was born in Detroit in 1935. He began cello lessons in the 2nd grade, and soon upgraded to studying with Jacob Becker of the DSO. Pliskow moved onto the bass violin while in high school, and started gigging around town. By the time he was 19, Danny was working six nights a week in Detroit's jazz clubs. He continued his studies at Wayne State University by day, and learned the art of jazz at night.
Pliskow established himself on the competitive Detroit jazz scene and got jobs in WJBK and WXYZ television studios. He worked at the Detroit Playboy Club, the Roostertail, and countless other jobs. He’s provided a foundation for many jazz giants such as Wes Montgomery, Roy Eldridge, Milt Jackson and Art Farmer. Dan loves to play jazz, in any setting, with any size band. Pliskow worked over 200 gigs in 2012 – not counting the jam sessions and lessons!
Pliskow’s love of jazz history pushed him to take photos of musicians, clubs and fans. He has a treasure trove of recordings made at places around Detroit. His love of teaching got him a spot on Wayne State’s jazz studies program, where he’s taught since 1981.
Detroit's reputation as a jazz center was created by musicians who left our city, but it’s reputation is sustained by those musicians who remain. It is those musicians who teach future generations of jazzers.
We present the Jazz Guardian Award to Dan Pliskow for not only his playing and his stellar reputation among his peers, but also for his teaching and his efforts to document and preserve our unique and special place in Jazz History.
|Past Jazz Guardian Awards
The 2012 Jazz Guardians are George Hill and Jo Thompson
The 1950’s in Detroit are sometimes called “The Golden age of Detroit Jazz,” because so many gifted musicians lived here. It was also “a great time to be a jazz fan,” George Hill recalled. Read more>
Jo Thompson is a Detroit born singer and pianist who was rediscovered in the last twenty years with two CDs and appearances at New York nightclubs and concert halls. Read more>
View past winners here:
2011 Jazz Guardian
2010 Jazz Guardians
2009 Jazz Guardians
2008 Jazz Guardians
2007 Jazz Guardians