Jazz musician Dave Brubeck of 'Take Five' fame dies aged 91

Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 00:00

Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, whose choice of novel rhythms, classical structures and brilliant side men made him a towering figure in modern jazz, has died at the age of 91, said his manager Russell Gloyd.

Brubeck died of heart failure yesterday morning after he fell ill on his way to a regular medical appointment at Norwalk Hospital, Connecticut, USA, a day short of his 92nd birthday.

His Dave Brubeck Quartet put out one of the best selling jazz songs of all time: Take Five, composed by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. Like many of the group’s works, it had an unusual beat – 5/4 time as opposed to the usual 4/4.

“We play it differently every time we play it,” said Brubeck in 2005. “So I never get tired of playing it. That’s the beauty of jazz.” Take Five was the first million-selling jazz single.

Dressed in a suit and horn-rimmed glasses and living a clean-cut lifestyle in the 1950s, Brubeck did not fit the stereotype of a hipster jazzman and his music was not nearly as brooding as that coming from east coast bebop players.

Despite his innovative approach, some critics interpreted Brubeck’s popularity as a sign of uncoolness. But his fans were undeterred.

Brubeck was born in Concord, California, on December 6th, 1920. His father was a rancher and as a teenager Brubeck was a skilled cowboy. But his mother, a music teacher who had five pianos in the house, saw that he took up piano at the age of five. He is survived by his wife, four sons and a daughter. – (Reuters)