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Dave Brubeck Quartet
Remembering Dave Brubeck
1966 in Germany Dave Brubeck (piano), Paul Desmond (alto sax), Eugene Wright (bass), and Joe Morello (drums).
David Brubeck was born December 6, 1920 in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Concord, California. He grew up in Ione, his father, Peter Brubeck, was a cattle rancher, and his mother, Elizabeth, who had studied piano in England and intended to become a concert pianist, taught piano for extra money. David originally did not intend to become a musician (his two older brothers, Henry and Howard, were already on that track), but took lessons from his mother. He could not read sheet music during these early lessons, attributing this difficulty to poor eyesight, but "faked" his way through, well enough that this deficiency went mostly unnoticed
Brubeck's style ranged from refined to bombastic, reflecting his mother's attempts at classical training and his improvisational skills. His music is known for employing unusual time signatures, and superimposing contrasting rhythms, meters, and tonalities. His long-time musical partner, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, wrote the saxophone melody for the Dave Brubeck Quartet's best remembered piece, "Take Five", which is in 5/4 time and has endured as a jazz classic on one of the top-selling jazz albums, Time Out. Brubeck experimented with time signatures throughout his career, recording "Pick Up Sticks" in 6/4, "Unsquare Dance" in 7/4, "World's Fair" in 13/4, and "Blue Rondo à la Turk" in 9/8. He authored a number of jazz standards, including "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "The Duke," but was also a respected composer of orchestral music. Additionally Dave wrote soundtracks for television such as "Mr. Broadway" and the animated mini-series "This Is America, Charlie Brown."
Dave Brubeck died of heart failure on December 5, 2012 on his way to a cardiology appointment in Norwalk, Connecticut. It was one day before his 92nd birthday.
*On April 8, 2008, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presented Brubeck with a "Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy" for offering an American "vision of hope, opportunity and freedom" through his music. "As a little girl I grew up on the sounds of Dave Brubeck because my dad was your biggest fan," said Rice. The State Department said in a statement that "as a pianist, composer, cultural emissary and educator, Dave Brubeck's life's work exemplifies the best of America's cultural diplomacy." At the ceremony Brubeck played a brief recital for the audience at the State Department. "I want to thank all of you because this honor is something that I never expected. Now I am going to play a cold piano with cold hands," Brubeck stated.
*On October 18, 2008, Brubeck received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
*On September 20, 2009, at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Brubeck was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music.
*On May 16, 2010, Brubeck was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. The ceremony took place on the National Mall.
*On July 5, 2010, Brubeck was awarded the Miles Davis Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. In 2010, Bruce Ricker and Clint Eastwood produced a documentary "Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way" about Brubeck for Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to commemorate his 90th birthday in December 2010.
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