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Musician Dave Brubeck Dies At 91
Posted by Ivetta Babadjanian on Dec 5, 2012 - 3:46:44 PM
NORWALK, CONN.—Jazz musician Dave Brubeck died on Wednesday, December 5 at the Norwalk Hospital near his longtime home in Wilton, Connecticut. Brubeck died of heart failure while he was on his way to a regular doctor's appointment. He would have been 92 on Thursday, December 6.
Joe Morello, Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck and Joe Benjamin. Photo courtesy of Dave Brubeck's website.
Throughout Brubeck's career, he record more than 100 albums for large orchestras, choruses and even wrote two ballets. He was especially known for experimenting with time signatures throughout his career such as "Pick Up Sticks" in 6/4, "Unsquare Dance" in 7/4 and "World's Fair" in 13/4.
Brubeck went to the University of the Pacific for veterinary medicine at his father's insistence, but he was banished to the music conservatory at the end of his first year. He was able to study for three years without anyone realizing that he was unable to read sheet music, despite his mother's attempts. When his secret was revealed, he was allowed to graduate only if he promised never to teach music and to never return to the university. He would eventually return to receive his honorary doctorate and for the university's establishment of the Brubeck Institute.
After graduating in 1942, Brubeck was drafted into the army and served overseas in George Patton's Third Army. He was spared from service in the Battle of the Bulge because he volunteered to play piano at a Red Cross show. His performance was well-received and he was urged to form a band. Thus, he created the US armed forces' first racially integrated band, The Wolfpack.
Brubeck met saxophonist Paul Desmond during his time in the army and together they would eventually become a part of The Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 with Eugene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums. The quartet became house band for six years at the Blackhawk jazz club in San Francisco. Their popularity grew after they toured college campuses and recorded a series of albums such as "Jazz at Oberlin" in 1953, "Jazz at the College of the Pacific" in 1953, and "Jazz Goes to College" in 1954.
In 1954, Brubeck became the first contemporary jazz musician to make the cover of Time Magazine. In 1958, the Dave Brubeck Quartet went on a worldwide tour sponsored by the State Department to countries such as Poland, Turkey, India, East and West Pakistan, Sri. Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.
One of their most popular songs, "Take Five," was written by Desmond and released in 1959 on the album "Time Out." The song popularized the 5/4 time signature and became a pop hit which was rare for a jazz instrumental song. The song hit number two on the Billboard charts in 1961 and soon became the first jazz recording to sell more than a million copies.
He met his wife, Iola Marie Whitlock, during his time in college and married soon after his graduation. Together they had six children, four of which are professional musicians.
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