Obit of the Day: Jazz Legend Dave Brubeck
Famed jazz pianist Dave Brubeck died on December 5, 2012 - the day before his 92nd birthday. Brubeck, who is best known for his performance of “Take Five” (written by Paul Desmond) from Time Out (1959) which became the first million-selling jazz album, was at the forefront of modern jazz. (He would be featured on over 100 albums during his career.)
He formed his quartet in 1951 and became the first jazz artist to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. Prior to World War II Brubeck was headed for a career as a veterinarian at the University of the Pacific. However his professor told him “Brubeck, your mind’s not here. It’s across the lawn in the conservatory. Please go there. Stop wasting my time and yours.” He transferred to the music program, only to be threatened with expulsion because he couldn’t read music. (He was allowed to graduate as long as he promised to never teach piano.)
Brubeck, whose mother was a classically trained piano teacher, first made his mark during World War II when he served under General George S. Patton, mainly as a musician. He was part of “The Wolfpack” the only integrated band in the armed services. (Following the war he would challenge societal norms, often performing at black jazz clubs in the South.)
Later Brubeck would be honored at the Kennedy Center, play for Mikhail Gorbachev, and received both a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (he received four Grammy nominations in his career but never won; Time Out was never nominated) and a BBC Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award.
Note: In March 2011, the drummer on “Take Five”, Joe Morello, was featured on Obit of the Day.
(“Take Five” and the album Time Out are copyright of Columbia/Legacy Records, 2009)