Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck died on Wednesday, the day before his 92nd birthday, his manager and producer Russell Gloyd has announced. Gloyd said that Brubeck died from heart failure on his way to a routine health check.
Born in California in 1920, Brubeck did not originally intend to follow a career in music, despite his older siblings having done so, and him having taken lessons from his mother while he was growing up. However, after beginning to study Veterinary Science, he was convinced to study music instead by his head of department. Though that plan initially hit a hurdle when it emerged that he could not read a musical score.
But after serving in the army during the Second World War, Brubeck subsequently returned to his studies and became a recording artist in 1949. It was in 1951 that he formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the group for which he is best known, and which grew in popularity so much that he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1959 (though he maintained that Duke Ellington should have received that honour).
Later the same year, the Quartet release ‘Time Out’, an album that the Columbia label was originally reluctant to release because it used a variety of unusual time signatures. However, it was a huge success, and spawned the group’s best known composition, ‘Take Five’, written in 5/4 by saxophonist Paul Desmond.
Although popularity brought with it disdain from some of his peers, Brubeck and his quartet remained popular and toured almost constantly until they split in 1967 (reuniting in 1976 for a 25th anniversary tour). After the Quartet had disbanded, Brubeck continued as a solo composer and performer, branching out into other genres, including opera and ballet, and recording right up to the present day, as well as touring regularly until 2009.
Brubeck is survived by his wife Iola and their six children.