By Frisco Rosso
This is a brief tribute to the progressive jazz maestro Dave Brubeck who passed away on Wednesday in Norwalk, Connecticut just a day from his 92nd birthday.
Brubeck had a distinguished career spanning more than six decades and was the recipient of numerous awards including the Miles Davis Award, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy as well as being defined as a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress.
He achieved great success with The Dave Brubeck Quartet during the 1950s and ‘60s, touring universities and colleges and making jazz more accessible to mainstream audiences and providing the genre with mass appeal.
Brubeck incorporated classical techniques into his jazz, resulting in complicated time signatures such as 3/4, 5/4 for Take Five, Kathay’s Waltz in 6/4 (actually 4/4 transition to 6/4 which was unusual for the time) and 9/8 for Blue Rondo a la Turk, a defining element of his sound in the ground-breaking 1959 album Time Out – the first jazz album to sell more than a million copies. Take Five went on to become the biggest-selling jazz track in history. Brubeck continued to experiment with and combine unusual time signatures with progressive harmonies throughout his career.
After years of acclaim and millions of albums sold The Dave Brubeck Quartet disbanded in 1967 which allowed Brubeck to concentrate on extended compositions and other arrangements, although the group did regroup to perform periodically. Brubeck,however, spent the bulk of his time post-Quartet developing orchestral pieces and scores for ballet which often fell into the guise of sacred music.
In his twilight years Brubeck continued to tour, perform and record new albums, the last of which was Indian Summer, released in 2007. Chances are if Brubeck’s name doesn’t ring any bells, his music surely will – with a discography comprising more than 150 albums he was certainly prolific and one of the hardest working musicians in the business.
So if you haven’t already, take a moment to check out some of his material but be warned: a moment could turn into a few hours, such is the addictive quality of his jazz.
Bonn voyage Mr Brubeck and keep on swingin’.
With more tension than your mother’s suspension, I am Frisco Rosso. I’m likely to deliver a few lines worth at any given moment regarding film, music, sport, books and anything morally unsound that strikes a blow between the eyes in the name of entertainment.