The performance was presented by the Westport Arts Center, but performed at the Southport library to take advantage of its grand piano there. Not a seat remained for the sold-out performance, the fifth and final concert in the annual jazz series sponsored by WAC.
Torff -- a renowned bassist, composer, author and educator -- curated the concert in addition to performing. He was joined onstage by Tim Moran on saxophone, Adam Nussbaum on drums, and Donn Trenner on the piano.
Westport Arts Center Executive Director Peter Van Heerden, who was joined by WAC staff and many patrons throughout the audience, introduced the performance. Van Heerden noted that Torff is the current professor of music and music program director at Fairfield University. Fellow faculty members, like Dr. Philip Eliasoph, professor of visual and performing arts, were among attendees.
Besides offering access to the piano, Van Heerden said the library was chosen as the concert venue "to bring this format into another community ... the arts is every facet -- visual, performance. Music is a dynamic part of the arts."
Dr. Arthur Ashman, a Westport Arts Center benefactor, sponsored the afternoon performance. In fact, Ashman has underwritten the entire program each year for the past five. "The previous sponsor passed away and I've been a jazz musician for many years, though I don't play well," he said. "Jazz is the essence of our lives and I thought we had to have it in our community."
The performance was a tribute to Brubeck and his music, and the profound effect it had on the jazz music world. The pianist and composer, who had lived in Wilton, died at the age of 91 in early December 2012.
He was known for his "cool jazz" style, that ranged from refined to improvisational. Brubeck's best-remembered piece is probably "Take Five," which is featured on one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, "Time Out."
"It was the right thing to honor him," said Ashman, who was also pleased that Torff led the tribute. "Brian Torff has done it all. I thank him for enabling this to happen," he said.