Chris Brubeck and LuEllen Schafer

It has been an intense week of highs and lows. I interviewed jazz royalty, and a day later a dear friend died. 

Chris Brubeck


Big thrill. Last Friday I got to interview Dave Brubeck’s son, Chris.

The Brubeck brothers (Chris and Dan) were in town for a concert with the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra featuring David Benoit and Taylor Eigsti.


I have not had time to edit the whole interview, but wanted to share this one minute segment of the Brubeck family’s relationship to alto saxophonist, Paul Desmond.  A charming story, please watch.





Lu Ellen Schafer

“I want to see you again before I die.” 

Our dear friend and colleague, Lu Ellen Schafter, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on Saturday.

As all death tells me over and over again: appreciate this moment, this beauty, these people, this music, and on and on. We take it for granted. It will all be gone too soon… and for a very long time.

I saw LuEllen last Tuesday. She was in and out. Drifting off, sunken eyes closed, mouth open –  a death mask, really.

I hugged her and got a handful of bone, so little muscle and flesh. Clearly the end was very near.

Considering our shared atheism, I kidded her and asked, “So are you getting religion now?” She said, “Oh, for Christ sake, Rick.”

I said, “Well, I hope we are wrong and we’ll see each other in paradise, and for ever. More likely, Jesus will be really pissed and we’ll be in big trouble.” We shared a laugh. Then she said words I will never forget, “I want to see you again before I die.”

I tried to go back again, but it just didn’t work out for her family and for all those close to her.

What a loss, but I will remember her spirit always.  She was only 61.


7 thoughts on “Chris Brubeck and LuEllen Schafer

    • Rick says:

      Actually, George, I have a confession. What LuEllen really said was, “You can’t be serious.” I decided to spice it up a bit.

  1. Peter Dale Scott says:

    I saw her at a party fifteen days before she died. As to be expected, she was for a while the life of the party, enchanting everyone. Then suddenly she felt terrible, and I had to walk her to her car.
    But I had no idea until just now how close she was to her end. What a brave life, and what a cruel cutting off of it!

    • James Yamada says:

      I went to school with Lu Ellen. Grammar, junior high and high school, maybe even college. I saw a resume saying she went to University of California…..I assume that’s Berkeley. The picture above shows that she really didn’t change much in looks even from what I remember of her from grammar school. The last time I saw her was at our high school reunion, either 30th or 40th and she pulled me over to chat for 10 minutes. I always remember Lu Ellen as being super friendly and always interested in what you had to say. In those few minutes, I came away being impressed at how confident, strong and vibrant she was but yet still humble. This is the kind of person I envisioned Lu Ellen becoming when we were kids in 6th grade. May she rest in peace.

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