Jazz legend Dave Brubeck died today from heart failure at the age of 91. He will be sorely missed, but leaves behind an amazing legacy of incredibly beautiful, complex, and emotionally compelling music.
Brubeck was my inspiration and introduction to the world of jazz. His iconic 1959 album, “Time Out” was a revelation. How could such complex rhythms still swing? How could such wildly improvisational tunes still be catchy and accessible enough to become hits on the Billboard pop charts?
An innovator in the “cool jazz” movement of the late ’50’s, Brubeck led me and millions of other listeners on a journey to discover, experience, and appreciate the ever-evolving, ever-changing, ever-expressive nature of improvisational jazz.
Over the course of my career in broadcasting and music; I’ve been to hundreds of concerts. But none of them moved me as profoundly, as deeply, and in such a personal way as the Dave Brubeck concert I attended in Seattle sometime in the late ’90s or early 2000’s.
While I cannot remember the exact date; I can remember my great joy and bliss being tempered by a sense of deep melancholy, when I realized that this great lion of jazz piano who was at the time in his ’80s, might one day soon pass away.
Who could possibly take the place of such a great master? Who could possibly play, inspire, emote, and mesmerize as adeptly, beautifully, and meaningfully as this wonderful man?
I didn’t have the answer then, and I don’t have it now. But, what I do have, is great praise, gratitude, and appreciation for the incredible music Brubeck left us.
If you’re not yet familiar with his music; take a few moments to listen to “Time Out”, and you will understand why millions of people have become such devoted fans over the last half century. He was one of a kind, a true original; gone now, but never to be forgotten.
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