Born in Concord, California, on Dec. 6, 1920. Dave Brubeck came up in a musical home where his mother was a classically trained piano teacher. His career spanned almost just about all of American jazz since World War II. Shortly after WWII, he formed the famed Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951. He’s received many an accolade to include being just the second jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1954. Mr. Brubeck was of a select few that defined swing, coming up in the smoky rhythms of 1950s and `60s jazz club scenes touring all over the country.
The incredible LP Time Out, released by his quartet in 1959 defined his career. It was the first ever million-selling jazz LP and to this day is still among the best-selling jazz albums of all time. It featured the tunes “Blue Rondo a la Turk” in 9/8 time, nine beats to the measure instead of the customary two, three or four beats and “Take 5”, composed by his longtime saxophonist Paul Desmond, played in 5/4 time, which became a signature tune for the quartet.
Throughout his career Mr. Brubeck has composed music for operas, ballet, even a contemporary Mass. He was a man who was determined to do what he felt was right in every situation. This mantra extended beyond just playing his music. It was after African-American bassist Eugene Wright joined his group, that he canceled appearances at venues that were unwilling to hire an integrated band. It was not a popular stance to take and one that many artists never did.
Mr. Brubeck and his wife, Iola, have 6 children, four of which are musicians. They founded the Dave Brubeck Institute at their alma mater, University of the Pacific, back in 2000. He has collected numerous awards over the years, including a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1996, and he was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 2009. Mr. Brubeck is also currently nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition.
On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, Dave Brubeck was on his way to a cardiologist appointment with his son Darius. He was stricken and passed away due to heart failure at the age of 91, the day before his 92nd birthday. He will forever be remembered as a jazz legend and pioneer! WEAA takes this time to celebrate his life and music contributions, as he is our Jazz Master of the Month. Tune in all month long to hear various tunes written and played by Dave Brubeck.