Jazz great dies age 91
Dave Brubeck

Jazz great Dave Brubeck has passed away at the age of 91.

Many musicians are called great, yet few really deserve that title. Due to his outstanding career, his exemplary musicianship, his continual exhortation for civil rights and so many more, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck could truly be labelled great.

Born in California, Dave Brubeck was a largely self taught musician. Unable to read music, he still gained entry to the College of the Pacific where he studied music. Allowed to graduate, the college insisted that the conference of a degree be met with an assurance that the pianist would never teach music.

Drafted into the United States army in 1942, Dave Brubeck served throughout the Second World War. At the Battle of the Bulge, the budding pianist was invited to form an army band and - in doing so - formed one of the first successful mixed race groups.

As the war ended Dave Brubeck returned to civilian life where he made his career as a pianist of rare composure. Light, lyrical but with a real swing he helped transition jazz from its traditional roots into something resembling a modern form.

Adapting to his style to the revolution raging around him, Brubeck found enormous commercial success. Placed on the cover of Time Magazine in 1952, the pianist became the first jazz musician since Louis Armstrong to be afforded this honour. Typically, the pianist was incredibly modest about the achievement - even inferring that the only reason Duke Ellington had not been placed there instead was due to the racial divide in the United States.

Perhaps Dave Brubeck's lasting achievement in jazz is his technical ability. Forming the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the pianist began experimenting with new time signatures such as 9/8, 5/4, 3/4, and 6/4. The resulting album 'Time Out' would become one of the most successful jazz albums of all time, with its famed cut 'Take Five' instantly recognisable to listeners with no real exposure to jazz music.

Remaining a prolific composer and performer almost to the end of his life, Dave Brubeck died of heart failure this morning (December 5th).

Tributes are already pouring in, but we'll leave you with his signature track 'Take Five'.


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