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Dave Brubeck: 1920-2012

Wednesday, December 05, 2012   by: Donna Hopper

One day before he was to celebrate his 92nd birthday, jazz pioneer and legend, Dave Brubeck, passed away in a Norwalk, Connecticut hospital as a result of heart failure.

Rising to pop star status with recordings such as Take Five and Blue Rondo a la Turk, Brubeck continued to defy jazz conventions throughout his long and illustrious career by utilizing unusual time signatures and instrumentation.

Brubeck was only the second jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine - the first being Louis Armstrong - in 1954, and his 1959 release, Time Out, charted at No. 2 on Billboard's pop albums chart.

Originally intended as an experiment in unconventional meter, Time Out's timing signatures of 9/8, 5/4, 3/4, and 6/4 were inspired by European folk music.

The album quickly went on to be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The popularity of the Brubeck Quartet, featuring Paul Desmond, Joe Morello, and Eugene Wright, peaked in the early 1960s as they released as many as four albums per year.

In 1994, Brubeck was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts, and was inducted into DownBeat Magazine's Hall of Fame.

He received the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in 1996, the BBC Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2008, and was honoured by the Kennedy Centre in 2009.

To commemorate Brubeck's 90th birthday, Bruce Riker and actor, producer and director, Clint Eastwood, produced the documentary Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way, the same year he was presented with the Miles Davis Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Brubeck is survived by his wife Iona, and their five children.

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anapeg 12/5/2012 2:00:40 PM Report

Even those who never followed jazz inadvertantly knew of Brubeck. He literaly "played" the drum not once ever beating the hell out of them and he never looked hurried, always calm and in control. A great is gone.
Victor Driver 12/5/2012 3:09:49 PM Report

I had the pleasure of seeing him perform live about 15 years ago...even at age (then) 77 when those fingers hit the piano keys it was pure magic. His contribution to Jazz is legendary, and his music continues to inspire. Thank you for thinking outside the time signature box!
Bill_the_Cat 12/5/2012 3:50:59 PM Report

Joe Morello was the drummer for the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the above piece. Brubeck is on piano.

In my younger years, I would always get Brubeck and Vince Guaraldi mixed up.

We have lost a fine musician, and more importantly, a wonderful husband and father.

Requiescat in pace.


TheBeerman 12/6/2012 6:33:26 PM Report

Donna: For about the last month the video clips haven't been working... You have to click on the watch on youtube button to see any of them!
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