Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Vast Legacy of Dave Brubeck

"One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same anyplace in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear.” -- Dave Brubeck

A legendary musician and a master of jazz, Dave Brubeck died today at age 91, one day shy of his 92nd birthday. Much will be written about him, now and for many years to come, and I wanted to instead showcase some of his music. (The 2010 documentary "Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way" produced by Clint Eastwood provides a most comprehensive look at his life and career for those wishing to know more about him and his vast influence worldwide on jazz and music in general.)

His 1959 album "Time Out" stands as one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, and the tune "Take Five" is immensely well known, though the composition is credited to saxophone player Paul Desmond. I think the first track on the album, "Blue Rondo ala Turk", is much more emblematic of Dave's style. The album grew from the Quartet's experiences traveling in Eastern Europe and the Middle East as ambassadors touring on behalf of the US State Department - Brubeck was captivated by the musical time signatures of the music from other nations, Turkey in this instance.

Some in the music world thought Dave's piano style and the Quartet's music was too extreme, others thought it far too tame. Thankfully, Dave and his colleagues followed their own Muse. His 1957 album, "Dave Digs Disney", was way too hip and way too square all at the same time - but his improvisations on classic Disney tunes are excellent, and today jazz inspired by Disney music is a genre all its own.

The 1961 album, "Time Further Out" is my own personal favorite. And the tune "Bluette" is a knockout, blending jazz and blues and evokes strong and subtle emotions. Thanks, Dave, for such a vast legacy.


  1. Brubeck had to pass, but he left us so much more than most mortals do.

  2. Very true - and there's also his classical and theatrical works which are so ambitous and innovative.