Jazz pioneer dead at 91, leaves iconic legacy

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Dave Brubeck
Jazz legend Dave Brubeck

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck died on Wednesday morning in Hartford, Conn. of heart failure, just one day shy of his 92nd birthday. Brubeck is best known as the namesake of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, for which he both composed and served as pianist.

During the sixties it seemed that no household record collection was complete unless it included the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Time Out” album, whether they were jazz aficionados or not. Referring to this particular work, the Associated Press reported:

The seminal album “Time Out,” released by the quartet in 1959, was the first ever million-selling jazz LP, and is still among the best-selling jazz albums of all time. It opens with “Blue Rondo a la Turk” in 9/8 time – nine beats to the measure instead of the customary two, three or four beats.

A piano-and-saxophone whirlwind based loosely on a Mozart piece, “Blue Rondo” eventually intercuts between Brubeck’s piano and a more traditional 4/4 jazz rhythm.

The album also features “Take Five” – in 5/4 time – which became the Quartet’s signature theme and even made the Billboard singles chart in 1961. It was composed by Brubeck’s longtime saxophonist, Paul Desmond.

“When you start out with goals – mine were to play polytonally and polyrhythmically – you never exhaust that,” Brubeck told an AP interviewer in 1995. “I started doing that in the 1940s. It’s still a challenge to discover what can be done with just those two elements.”

Read the full Associated Press article here.

In tribute to this legendary musician, we include the following video of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s iconic “Take Five.” Enjoy.

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