Dave Brubeck, Jazz Pianist, Dies at 91

I wasn’t much of a jazz fan for the first 3 or more decades of my life and then something shifted. Once I discovered jazz, the artists from 1950s and ’60s were the ones that struck my chord. Brubeck was at the top of my favorite artist list.

Dave Brubeck died this morning in Norwalk, Conn, “he would have turned 92 on Thursday.”

During his “long and successful career, Mr. Brubeck helped repopularize jazz at a time when younger listeners had been trained to the sonic dimensions of the three-minute pop single. His quartet’s 1959 recording of “Take Five” was the first jazz single to sell a million copies.”

In 1954 Dave Brubeck was riding hign the cover of Time magazine. He was a “brilliant, uncompromising composer-pianist who challenged conventional jazz techniques, brought the music to American college campuses and helped break down racial barriers through a music uniquely suited to that task.”

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Dave Brubeck has been credited with changing the “sound of jazz in profound ways, unexpectedly becoming something of a pop star in the process.” His hit Take Five was written by his alto saxophonist, Paul Desmond.

When “Take Five” made Brubeck a household name, “some critics and deejays accused him of selling out, he said in a 1990 Tribune interview.”

But I had a lot of fun with them,” recalled Brubeck. “One of the most internationally known disc jockeys accused me, right on the air, of going commercial.

“So I said to him, on the air: ‘OK, let’s play the (‘Take Five’) record, and you follow along and count it,’” said Brubeck, referring to its underlying rhythmic pattern, which defied the two-, three- and four-beats-to-the-bar techniques of the day.

“And there was this huge blank – he didn’t say anything.

“So I said, ‘Well, why don’t you do it?’

“And he just didn’t answer.

“At that time, hardly any musicians could play ‘Take Five.’ Now a grammar school kid can play it.

“But those were breakthroughs.”

The jazz world has lost a true jazz icon today. R.I.P. Dave Brubeck

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