Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012

Dave Brubeck has passed away. He was 91.

“Take Five” is one of my favorite pieces of music. When I hear it, I am reminded of my childhood, I am reminded of listening to Pittsburgh’s WDUQ, and I am reminded, cheesily, of crisp evenings with the hint of potential.

From an excellent New York Times obituary:

Genial as Mr. Brubeck could seem, he had strong convictions. In the 1950s he had to stand up to college deans who asked him not to perform with a racially mixed band (his bassist, Gene Wright, was black). He also refused to tour in South Africa in 1958 when asked to sign a contract stipulating that his band would be all white.

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27 thoughts on “Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012

  1. Take 5 is the sound track to the life of a man who has both competence and purpose, knows this about himself, and let’s it show just enough that others admire him, but not so much that he arouses envy.
    • but not so much that he arouses envy.

      this is a lovely; but if you’ve ever watched someone learning to master their horn work for a tone like Brubeck’s . . . they’re filled with envy.

  2. I just heard about this. Major bummer. I was literally just thinking about him yesterday because for some reason the holidays always remind me of Brubeck.

    Glad you didn’t fish around and play a different track. As one of our local radio personalities once said, ‘Take Five’ is probably the coolest song ever written. The time signature was revolutionary at the time. The whole album is great but man I could listen to this all day.

    I had a chance to see him in concert a couple of years ago and missed it. I’ll regret that one forever.

  3. We’re introducing the Critter to jazz. (The interest was sparked by a lovely book given by a thoughtful friend.) It’s lunchtime here, and we’re listening to this song right now.

    RIP, Dave. I love your music, and I’m hoping my kids will, too.

    • Russell,

      My two-fold goal for my daughter was this: Teach her to love books and to love music. Thankfully I succeeded on both fronts, though I am sad to say that jazz was the one genre that never took. We used to have ‘quiet time’ where I would put on jazz and we would do some kind of creative project together. Usually Play-Doh or coloring or Legos. My hope is that a love for jazz is burned into her subconcious only to be activated at some later date.

      Good luck my friend.

      • My parents stopped listening to jazz (or any music) when my younger siblings came along, for various reasons. Many years later, I found that the albums they listened to then still felt like “home” more than any other music, even though I had been too young to consciously remember them. So I wouldn’t be surprised if she picks up those same songs later on. Quite possibly with a, “DAD!!! You will not BELIEVE THIS AMAZING SONG I JUST FOUND!!!!”
    • Same here, but Take 5 is what introduced me to Brubeck in the first place. Without that first, I’m not sure I would grown to love Blue Rondo a La Turk as much as I do.
  4. Kathy’s Waltz will always have a special place in my heart. Largely because one of my favorite people is named Kathy.
  5. This is the first I’ve heard of his passing. For me, Dave Brubeck epitomised California when I first heard him.

    So many fond memories of Dave Brubeck. He was the reflection of the city lights in the puddles and the falling rain of a hundred late nights, the whisper of glory in the ugliness of a hundred cities, the way a woman walks in a good dress, the sound of her shoes on the sidewalk. Brubeck’s piano style affected my own. How shamelessly I aped him! A thousand pianists in a thousand piano bars ape him, too, and none of us will ever be his equal. With Dave Brubeck’s passing, a true original has left the world.

    Brubeck and Paul Desmond: Stardust, alternate take.

  6. This is terrible, terrible news. I’m a huge fan; I have live recordings of his from just a few years ago, and even at his age he was still spot on.

    Very sad to hear this.

  7. I’ve loved Take Five for years. You Tube made it even better because the drum solo is even awesomer when you watch what he’s doing with his hands. It was only a year or two ago that I learned it’s a song with words, and not a jazz instrumental. (Much better as an instrumental, of course.)
  8. With all due respect to Dave Brubeck, “Take Five” was written by Paul Desmond, the saxophonist.
  9. RIP. Brubeck wasn’t my favorite jazz pianist (that would be Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Bill Evans, or Bud Powell), but he was a fantastic one nonetheless.
  10. I attended the University of the Pacific and knew a lot of music conservatory students. Brubeck came back to play a couple of times while I was there and visited with the music students in the process. The students who met him universally said that he was a great guy, genuinely interested in what they were doing and happy to talk shop with them.

    It’s sad to lose somebody like that.

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