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"What he had was endless curiosity combined with stubbornness. His work list is astonishing, including oratorios, musicals and concertos, as well as hundreds of jazz compositions. This quiet man of jazz was truly a marvel." –Music journalist Ivan Hewett, on Dave Brubeck.

Today in music, we celebrate Dave Brubeck, who passed away this week on Wednesday morning, a day before his 92nd birthday. Dave was an American jazz musician who is remembered for his influence on progressive jazz and heavily improvisational style. His mother Elizabeth was a pianist, whose classically–trained roots also left their signature on Dave's music. Brubeck also composed orchestral ad sacred music, and wrote soundtracks for the animated show, This is America, Charlie Brown. His most remembered compositions include "Take Five", "Time Out", and "Unsquare Dance."

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Dave Brubeck entered the University of the Pacific intending to study veterinary science, but transferred when the head of zoology reportedly 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." Although he was nearly expelled when it was discovered that he could not read music, several professors rallied on his behalf and made a case for his natural ability for counterpoint and harmony. Brubeck was only granted a diploma after he agreed never to teach piano.

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After graduating, Brubeck was drafted into the army and served in George Patton's Third Army. He was spared from the Battle of the Bulge when he volunteered to play piano at a Red Cross show, which was so popular that he decided to form a band, "The Wolfpack". Brubeck met fellow serviceman Paul Desmond, who later became a signature member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. In fact, Desmond wrote their biggest hit, "Take Five".

In 1951, the Dave Brubeck Quartet was formed, with Desmond on alto sax. In 1954, Brubeck became the second jazz musician to be on the cover of Time magazine, after Louis Armstrong. Personally, Brubeck thought his own place should have gone to Duke Ellington, whom he considered the more deserving musician. In 1959, the group recorded Time Out, which included the now jazz standard "Take Five". The album went platinum. Brubeck is also remembered for maintaining an integrated band during an era of segregation. He canceled performances at clubs where the owners wouldn't allow integrated bands on stage, as well as a televsion performance when he discovered that African-American bassist Eugene Wright was to be kept off-camera.

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Four of Brubeck's six children are musicians, who often performed with their father during concerts and joined him in the recording studio. In 2000, Brubeck and his wife founded the Brubeck Institute at their alma mater, the University of the Pacific.

Dave Brubeck: December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 06 December 2014
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