Today, the jazz world lost one of its greats. A musical legend, self taught pianist and composer Dave Brubeck made his rise to fame in the 1950s and 60s. His distinctive blend of musical experimentation and accessibility helped re-popularize jazz during that time and ultimately change the face of the music moving forward.
While not always one to please critics, his exploration through various musical devices (as well as musical languages inspired by his trip to The Middle East and India) helped bring us the album “Time Out” which included the pop hits “Take Five and “Blue Rondo à la Turk”. It’s worth noting that his single “Take Five” was the first ever jazz single to sell a million copies and Mr. Brubeck was the first ever jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Time magazine.
As a composer, Mr. Brubeck played during the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting in 1988. As well, he composed entrance music for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1987. In total, he performed for eight presidents, from Kennedy to Clinton.
The National Endowment for the Arts named Mr. Brubeck a Jazz Master in 1999. A decade later, he received a Kennedy Center Honor for his contribution to American culture. His archives are now homed at his alma mater, renamed recently the University of the Pacific.
On what jazz meant to him, Brubeck once explained “One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same anyplace in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear.”
Dave Brubeck died Wednesday morning, December 5th 2012 in Norwalk, Connecticut. He would have turned 92 on Thursday.
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