Today lovers of jazz mourn the passing of a legendary jazz innovator, musician and band leader, Dave Brubeck. Gone at the ripe old age of 91, Dave has left his indelible iconic mark on jazz music, to be celebrated forever as a standard bearer of the genre. A pianist of high renown, Dave Brubeck learnt the rules of music only to break them and test their boundaries, through his relentless experiments in tone and rhythm.
Because of his ability to boldly experiment with odd time signatures, improvised counterpoints, polyrhythm and polytonality, he was able to establish a unique jazz sound that would be the signature of his career. From the 9/8 Blue Rondo a La Turk to the 5/4 Take Five, Dave made many acquire the exotic taste of his genius.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet ranks among the greatest jazz bands of all time. The jazz faithful will forever pay tribute to his virtuosity whenever they play or listen to Take Five.
Jazz has been around just over a hundred years. Dave dying at 91 spent about 70 of those years immersed in the genre of jazz. Therefore, much of the legacy of jazz so far belongs to Dave who has spent if not the longest time, an extraordinarily long time as a professional jazz musician, composer and band leader in the jazz genre.
Dave Brubeck will always be remembered as a musician committed to the advancement of the jazz art form. As a white musician rising to prominence in a genre dominated by numerous black virtuosos, Dave will forever be remembered as the humble dedicated, professional he was, as he meticulously worked his way up the very musically competitive ladder of jazz music.
The fact that Dave Brubeck became the first jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Time magazine, and the first jazz artiste to sell over a million copies of a jazz album in the ’60s, highlights his genius.
Dave understood the universal language of music. In 1988, while playing for Mikhail Gorbachev at a dinner in Moscow hosted by the then President Ronald Reagan for the Soviet leader, Dave said: “I can’t understand Russian, but I can understand body language”; this was after seeing the General Secretary tapping his foot to the music he (Dave) played.
Rest in peace Dave Brubeck. You introduced us to 5/4 time through your innovative compositions. Your music will forever live on. You have gone to Taking Five in heaven now.