Dave Brubeck, the pianist and composer who made the 5/4 time signature famous through his 1959 recording Time Out, has died at the age of 91 of heart failure, according to his manager-producer. Brubeck's Time Out, featuring Paul Desmond’s composition “Take Five,” is among the best-selling jazz albums of all time.
Brubeck had a career that spanned six decades, and his extensive contribution to the vocabulary of jazz and culture has been noted in many ways over that time, from being awarded the Benjamin Franklin Award for public diplomacy to the designation of living legend by the Library of Congress.
Throughout his career, Brubeck famously experimented with time signatures in jazz, with songs like "Pick Up Sticks" in 6/4 and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” in 9/4. As a pianist, he was known for his delicate, sensitive touch, and the influence of his teacher, classical pianist Darius Milhaud, helped form a style that was unique in jazz.
Tom Allen, host of CBC Radio 2's Shift, points out that "Dave Brubeck did for rhythm what Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie did for harmony. Before Dave Brubeck, jazz existed primarily in meters of three and in four. Now a jazzer has a world of rhythmic colours and options available. When you listen to 'Unsquare Dance' or 'It's a Raggy Waltz,' you're listening to the future of jazz from the fertile imagination of a true pioneer."
Former CBC jazz host Katie Malloch reflected on the loss.
"I just heard the news, and although he had a long life, I felt sad at his loss. Today, I'm thinking of those sons, and of Dave's wife, Iola, who collaborated with him as his lyricist on some of his lesser known projects. They seemed completely devoted to each other. The jazz pantheon just lost one of its true elders."
And Tim Tamashiro, host of CBC's Tonic, sums it all up.
"Today the world lost the biggest smile in jazz. Dave Brubeck was a lovely gentleman who was eager to share his smile and he made music that made the world say, 'Hey, that's cool!' Dave Brubeck put a skip into jazz that had jazz fans and jazz dabblers alike falling in love with the music. My favourite jazz concert ever was from Brubeck who, at 86, was able to put an audience in a headlock and captivate us for two solid hours. The time slipped by like a visit with an old friend. He was simply lovely."
For more about Dave Brubeck’s life, read the CBC.ca news obituary.
on Dec 05, 2012