UK & World News

  • 5 December 2012, 23:54

Dave Brubeck: Take Five Legend Dies at 91

Jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck, whose pioneering performance on Take Five was heard around the world, has died at the age of 91.

He died of heart failure after being stricken while on his way to a cardiology appointment with his son Darius.

Brubeck had a career that spanned almost all American jazz since World War Two.

He formed The Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951, and in November 1954 became the first modern jazz musician to be pictured on the cover of Time magazine.

Brubeck helped define the swinging, smoky rhythms of 1950s and '60s club jazz.

The seminal album Time Out, which was released by the Quartet in 1959, was the first ever million-selling jazz LP, and is still among the best-selling jazz albums of all time.

It opens with Blue Rondo A La Turk in 9/8 time - nine beats to the measure instead of the customary two, three or four beats.

Blue Rondo, a piano and saxophone whirlwind based loosely on a Mozart piece, eventually intercuts between Brubeck's piano and a more traditional 4/4 jazz rhythm.

The album also features Take Five - in 5/4 time - which became the Quartet's signature theme and even made the Billboard singles chart in 1961.

It was composed by Brubeck's longtime saxophonist, Paul Desmond.

"When you start out with goals - mine were to play polytonally and polyrhythmically - you never exhaust that," Brubeck said in an interview in 1995.

"I started doing that in the 1940s. It's still a challenge to discover what can be done with just those two elements."

Brubeck and his wife, Iola, had five sons and a daughter.

Four of his sons - Chris on trombone and electric bass, Dan on drums, Darius on keyboards and Matthew on cello - played with the London Symphony Orchestra in a birthday tribute to Brubeck in December 2000.

"We never had a rift," Chris Brubeck once said of living and playing with his father.

"I think music has always been a good communication tool, so we didn't have a rift. We've always had music in common."

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