Legendary Jazz Musician Dave Brubeck Dead at 91 [UPDATE]

Brubeck lived in Wilton, Conn.

Legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck has died at the age of 91, the Chicago Tribune reports

Brubeck, who lived in Wilton, was born on Dec. 6, 1920. A concert celebrating Brubeck's would-be 92nd birthday was scheduled to take place in Waterbury tomorrow.

Update 4:04 p.m.: That concert is still on, according to the Waterbury Repubican-American:

"Thursday night’s celebration of Dave Brubeck’s 92nd birthday at the Palace Theater in Waterbury will go on, with plans to turn the event into a tribute to the jazz great. Show organizers and theater officials expected musicians and family members to be on hand at the Palace to pay homage. The event will benefit the nonprofit Jazz’d 4 Life, which is run by Brubeck’s daughter."

Brubeck is known for penning a number of jazz standards, including "The Duke." His band, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, is best known for their song "Take Five."

According to the Tribune, Brubeck died of heart failure Wednesday morning at Norwalk Hospital on his way to a regular appointment with his cardiologist. 

Howard Reich, an arts critic for the Tribune, writes the following:

Throughout his career, Brubeck defied conventions long imposed on jazz musicians. The tricky meters he played in “Take Five” and other works transcended standard conceptions of swing rhythm. The extended choral/symphonic works he penned and performed around the world took him well outside the accepted boundaries of jazz. And the concerts he brought to colleges across the country in the 1950s shattered the then-long-held notion that jazz had no place in academia.

As a humanist, he was at the forefront of integration, playing black jazz clubs throughout the deep South in the ’50s, a point of pride for him.

"For as long as I’ve been playing jazz, people have been trying to pigeonhole me,” he once told the Tribune.


YouTube topic page on Dave Brubeck

"Take Five" (video)

"Blue Rondo a la Turk" (recording)

The Duke” (video)

In Your Own Sweet Way” (video)

“Pennies From Heaven” (video)

“It’s a Raggy Waltz” (video)

“All the Things You Are” (video)

“Pennies From Heaven” (video)

More links

Editor's note: There will be a lot written about Dave Brubeck's passing. The website Arts & Letters Daily will later have the best list of links to obituaries and articles about him. Until then, here are links to some of the best of what else is on the Web (the quotes are only a taste):

Dave Brubeck's official website

"Dave Brubeck, Who Helped Put Jazz Back in Vogue, Dies at 91" (New York Times):

Outside of the group’s most famous originals, which had the charm and durability of pop songs (“Take Five,” “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” “It’s a Raggy Waltz”), some of its best work was in its overhauls of standards like “You Go to My Head,” “All the Things You Are” and “Pennies From Heaven.”

“So I had to go on right after [Dave Brubeck], playing piano — terrifying” (Washington Post's "Going Out Guide" blog):

"Manager: Pioneering jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck dies" (Associated Press via the Washington Post)

"Dave Brubeck, worldwide ambassador of jazz, dies at 91" (Washington Post):

"A bespectacled cowboy who grew up on a remote California ranch, Mr. Brubeck was known for his complex rhythmic patterns, which he said were inspired by riding his horse and listening to its syncopated hoofbeats striking the ground."

"Remembering The Vital Force Of Jazz Pianist Dave Brubeck" (National Public Radio)

"Brubeck's start in music was like the jazz he played: unorthodox. He never learned to read sheet music growing up. He refused classical training. And he developed his chops playing in a military band for Gen. George Patton's Third Army."

"Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck refused to play to convention" (USA Today)

"Brubeck, 91, who died Wednesday in Norwalk, Conn., of heart failure, never stopped innovating over a half-century that saw him compose symphonies, classical and religious music, ballets and scores. He was on his way to a cardiologist appointment with his son Darius when he was stricken."

Cover of Time magazine, Nov. 8, 1954.

Duke University Web pages on Dave Brubeck



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