Thursday 6 December 2012

Dave Brubeck: 1920-2012

David Warren "Dave" Brubeck (December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012) was an American jazz pianist. He wrote a number of jazz standards, including "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "Take Five", which is in 5/4 time and has endured as a jazz classic. Brubeck experimented with time signatures throughout his career, recording "Pick Up Sticks" in 6/4, "Unsquare Dance" in 7/4, "World's Fair" in 13/4, and "Blue Rondo à la Turk" in 9/8.

Brubeck was born in Concord, California. His father was a cattle rancher, and his mother taught piano for extra money. Brubeck could not read sheet music during his early lessons, attributing this difficulty to poor eyesight, but "faked" his way through.

After graduating College in 1942, Brubeck was drafted into the army and served overseas in George Patton's Third Army. He was spared from service in the Battle of the Bulge when he volunteered to play piano at a Red Cross show; he was such a hit he was ordered to form a band. He created one of the US armed forces' first racially integrated bands. 

He returned to college after serving nearly four years in the army, Brubeck helped to establish Fantasy Records. The Dave Brubeck Quartet enjoyed phenomenal success in the 1950s and '60s, selling millions of albums. Their 1959 album, Time Out, was significant for its use of uncommon, complex time signatures - influenced by the pianist's classical training.

The record spawned Take Five, the biggest-selling jazz single of all time and a staple of the band's live set for the rest of their careers. Although Brubeck disbanded the quartet in 1967 to enable him to concentrate on composing, they reconvened regularly until Desmond's death in 1977. 

He continued to compose, play and record in his later years. His final release was the 2007 solo piano album Indian Summer.
"When you start out with goals - mine were to play polytonally and polyrhythmically - you never exhaust that. I started doing that in the 1940s. It's still a challenge to discover what can be done with just those two elements."
The musician is survived by his wife, Iola; four sons and a daughter; and his grandchildren.

For more, see The Washington Post.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Your love of jazz shines through, Henry.