music pioneer died Wednesday December 5 of heart failure just one day prior to his birthday at the age of 91. Brubeck was on the way to see his cardiologist at the time of his death in Norwalk, Connecticut.
The classically trained Brubeck’s pioneering musical career spanned six decades that included five top 10 albums, numerous Grammy Award nominations, a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Brubeck’s face even graced the cover of “Time” magazine. While he composed hundreds of songs and performed them with his quartet, Brubeck’s most well known for his song “Take Five” – a jazz number in 5/4 time. The Library of Congress’ Living Legend frequently composed pieces outside of the common time signatures of 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4. Brubeck also used poly- rhythm and tonality in his compositions. More than just a musical pioneer when it came to time signatures, Brubeck was also a pioneer when it came to his multi racial band members.
He was born David Warren Brubeck on December 6, 1920 in Concord, California into a musical family. Young David began taking piano lessons from his mother at age four. When he was 12 the family relocated to the Sierras where the family had a 45,000 acre cattle ranch where Dave helped out. At 14 Dave began playing in dance bands.
Enrolling in the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California; Brubeck had planned to study veterinary medicine but the lure of music took over as he continued to play in local nightclubs. After graduating with a degree in music, Brubeck joined the Army in 1942 where he became the leader of the band.
After leaving the Army in 1946, Burbeck returned to college and the study of music; this time with French composerwho encouraged Brubeck to compose Jazz music. He formed his first band in 1947.
Brubeck’s band introduced Jazz – west coast Jazz – to a whole new generation as they played colleges, clubs, and toured with, , , , and Stan Getz. He has played before President Reagan, Premiere , King Hussein of Jordan, President Lyndon Johnson, Pope John Paul II, and has made numerous appearances at the White House.
Brubeck became the first artist to have a Jazz album sell over a million copies with his experimental “Time Out” in 1959. Calling himself a composer who plays piano, Brubeck once said that labels bore him. While widely known for his Jazz compositions, Brubeck has also composed classical, orchestral, theatre, oratorieos, and dance works,
During his career Brubeck has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award, The Smithsonian Medal, several honourary degrees, the Laetare Medal, a Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale, the Yale School of Music’s Sanford Medal, a Jazz Master at the National Endowment for the Arts, a member of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, the Living Legacy Jazz Award from the Kennedy Center, member of the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame, the President’s Medal of Achievement from the University of the Pacific, the Arison Award from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, a Kennedy Center Honours, and awards from Austria, France, Italy, and England.
Brubeck's latest award nomination came on the day of his death when "Music of Ansel Adams: America" - a composition he created with his son Chris - was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Instrumental Composition category.
A birthday party planned for Thursday night to celebrate Brubeck’s birthday is instead being turned into a tribute for the musician with his son Darius taking on the piano playing duties.
Brubeck is survived by his wife of 70 years Lola, five of his children – Darius, Dan, Chris, Matthew, and Catherine, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.