Pianist and composer Dave Brubeck died early this morning of heart failure; the legendary musician was 91-years old.
Brubeck is credited with helping to invent and define the jazz movement of the ’50s and ’60s and was only the second modern jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Brubeck allegedly found this honor embarrassing, because he thought Duke Ellington was more deserving and claimed that the fact that he was black kept him off the cover. However, his band, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, became a force to be reckoned with in their own right; their 1959 album, “Time Out”, was the first jazz LP to sell a million copies, something which helped solidify Brubeck’s style and earned him a legendary reputation as a musician who wasn’t afraid to experiment with odd time-signatures.
“When you start out with goals — mine were to play polytonally and polyrhythmically — you never exhaust that,” Brubeck said in 1995. “I started doing that in the 1940s. It’s still a challenge to discover what can be done with just those two elements.”
Brubeck continued his touring career well into this decade despite a heart condition and was given multiple honors, including an honorary Doctor of Music degree from George Washington University in 2010. Of his six children, four became musicians; his son Chris once said that playing together was a constant source of happiness for the family.
“We never had a rift,” he said. “I think music has always been a good communication tool, so we didn’t have a rift. We’ve always had music in common.”