Dave Brubeck is a well known name. Its well known because it is synonymous with ‘cool’ and ‘laid back’. It is well known because it is a name which catapulted jazz from the shadowy scene in Oakland to a global stage. But this week Dave Brubeck passed away. Only hours after his death, he received a posthumous Grammy nomination.
His major hit ‘Take Five’ is recognisable even from the first few bars, and like the music he made, his career took many swerves and unexpected turns.
As a jazz pianist, he formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951, which was famous on the jazz scene before accomplishing worldwide success. Although the faces would sometimes change, the Quartet kept hold of the fiery passion it injected into its music. Perhaps one of Brubeck’s greatest achievements was his partnership with saxophonist Paul Desmond, who composed the hit ‘Take Five’. This was the first jazz record to sell one million copies, along with the album it came from ‘Time Out’.
Brubeck disbanded the Quartet in 1967 and focused on his first love – composing. Now a titan on the jazz scene, he experimented with his talents, creating a musical, two ballets, four cantatas and many works for jazz groups and symphony orchestras.
Brubeck was certainly an inspirational figure, who knew that there are parts of each of us that can go beyond the expected:
‘And there is a time where you can be beyond yourself. You can be better than your technique. You can be better than most of your usual ideas. And this is a whole other category that you can get into’ – Brubeck
This is true of The Wild Geese. It is true of ‘Men of Action’. And it is certainly true of Dave Brubeck.