Dave Brubeck, the influential and prolific pianist whose composition Take Five became a standard in the annals of jazz, died on December 5 at age 91, one day before his 92nd birthday.
He died of heart failure. He was reportedly on his way to visit a cardiologist in Norwalk, Connecticut, with his son Darius when he suffered a heart attack.
Brubeck played his “cool” brand of West Coast jazz before Blessed John Paul II and eight US presidents.
He became a Catholic in 1980 after completing a commission from US Catholic paper Our Sunday Visitor – a Mass titled To Hope. Brubeck said in a TV biographical profile, “I didn’t convert to Catholicism, because I wasn’t anything to convert from. I just joined the Catholic Church”.
He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
He got an honorary degree in sacred theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland in 2004. Over a half-century, Brubeck and his band gave concerts around the world.
He formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 and kept the combo going, with different musicians, until 1967.
It was during this period that he co-founded Fantasy Records, had his first huge hit with Take Five (credited to his saxophonist, Paul Desmond) and toured regularly, despite recording up to four albums a year.
“When the quartet was on the road in the early days, we were being played so much that we just used to go on the car radio and turn the dial,” Brubeck said in a 1996 interview.
“One night we heard three of our songs being played on three different stations at the same time,” he told his interviewer.
“That’s how much we were being played.” - CNS