Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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News Item

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck. R.I.P.

Dave Brubeck Quartet 2010
Dave Brubeck Quartet 2010

The man who first made jazz popular and mainstream, Dave Brubeck, has died a day before his 92nd birthday.

Brubeck, best known for the timeless classic "Take Five," written by his sax man Paul Desmond, passed away in the US on Wednesday (5th Dec), of heart failure - ironically on his way to an appointment with cardiology specialists, accompanied by his son Darius.

Brubeck's famed quartet were the first jazz outfit to sell a million copies of a jazz record, their iconic debut from1959, "Time Out," which is is still among the best-selling jazz albums of all time.It was noted for its use of unusual and complex time signatures.

"Take Five" was on that album and made the Billboard singles chart in 1961. It is the biggest selling jazz single of all time. He is also famed for the magnficeint " Blue Rondo a la Turk."

After serving in World War Two and studying in Oakland, California, Brubeck formed an octet that included Paul Desmond on alto sax and Dave van Kreidt on tenor, Cal Tjader on drums and Bill Smith on clarinet. The group eventually became the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

Brubeck's fame saw his appeal rise way above just the jazz fraternity. He was the first modern jazz musician to grave the cover of Time magazine. He has played for various US Presidents, and for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, at a dinner hosted by Ronald Reagan.

Brubeck continued to compose, play and record. His last album was "Indian Summer" in 2007, a solo piano recording. The last news item posted on to his website was on 26th November, promoting his festive CD, "A Dave Brubeck Christmas." On 7th November, the site announced that readers of respected US jazz journal Downbeat had voted the Dave Brubeck Quartet as the best jazz group in their readers poll, for the second year running.

Two weeks after his 91st birthday in 2011, Dave Brubeck wrote: "If I;d known I was going ti live this long, I would have taken better care of myself"" quoting Euibie Blake who said the same thing on his 100th birthday. Dave told his fans he was retired from touring but was sat at his piano every day, and was thinking about making another solo piano album of old songs that he said most people other than him had forgotten.

Mr Brubeck is survived by his wife, four sons, a daughter and several grandchildren.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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