The Year of Tony Bennett is sad to announce that Dave Brubeck, one of America’s jazz artists, passed away on December 5, 2012, just one day shy of his 92nd birthday.
Dave Brubeck was born on December 6, 1920 in Concord, California. His mother was a pianist, and he studied piano as a youth. He entered college as a veterinary student, but his professors there convinced him that his path was in music. He graduated with a degree in music, even after it was discovered that he could not read music.
Upon his graduation in 1942, Brubeck was drafted and served in Patton’s Third Army during World War II. He formed one of the first racially integrated Army bands, The Wolfpack, which performed for soldiers during the war. It was there he met Paul Desmond, with whom his career would always be linked.
After the war, Brubeck studied with Darius Milhaus at Mills College in Oakland, California. He helped establish Fantasy Records in Berkeley, California (the 1975 Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album was released on the Fantasy label). He formed the Dave Brubeck Octet and began to build his reputation as a jazz pianist.
In 1951, he founded the Dave Brubeck Quartet, with Paul Desmond on saxophone. In 1956, the drummer Joe Morello joined the Quartet, which helped advance the advanced rhythmic experimentation that they later became known for. In 1959, they released Time Out, which featured songs that are well-known today: Take Five and Blue Rondo a la Turk. The Quartet remained successful until they disbanded in 1967.
In the period following the Dave Brubeck Quartet era, Mr. Brubeck turned to composing longer orchestral and choral works, as well spending some well-earned time with his family. Four of his six children are professional musicians.
Mr. Brubeck received many honors in his lifetime, including:
- 1954 – Time Magazine Man of the Year
- 1994 – National Medal of Arts, National Endowment for the Arts
- 1994 – Downbeat Hall of Fame
- 1996 – Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2007 – BBC Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2008 – Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy by the US State Department
- 2008 – Kennedy Center Honoree
- 2008 – Inducted into the California Hall of Fame
- 2010 – Miles Davis Award
Mr. Brubeck is survived by his wife Iola, his sons Darius, Chris, Dave, and Matthew (his son Michael pre-deceased his father), his daughter Catherine, 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
An obituary, written by Ben Ratliff, has been posted on the New York Times.
We present this video of Mr. Bennett performing That Old Black Magic with Dave Brubeck in 2011 at Newport Jazz.