"Take Five" jazz great Dave Brubeck dies
California-born jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, whose "Take Five" recording with his quartet marked the first million-selling jazz piece, died Wednesday (12/5) of heart failure.
Brubeck, who would have celebrated his 92nd birthday Thursday (12/6), influenced progressive jazz with his unusual time signatures, improvisation and contrasting rhythms and meters. He founded the San Francisco-based Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951, with the classic lineup concluding in 1967 and a new quartet forming in 1968.
The composer's most famous quartet contribution, "Take Five," surfaced on 1959's "Time Out" album. The single became the first jazz track to attain gold-record status, and the album earned the title of first million-selling jazz collection.
"I wanted to play against the rhythm sections rather than with them, just as a modern choreographer does in ballet," Brubeck said, according to the Boston Globe. "It was very hard to get a rhythm section to do what I wanted it to do."
Brubeck earned multiple awards during his 60-year career, including a National Medal of Arts, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a Kennedy Centre Honor. He also recorded more than 100 albums with orchestras and choruses and wrote two ballets.
Brubeck is survived by Iola, his wife of 70 years, as well as five sons and a daughter.