Dave Brubeck would have been 92 today. Instead, the world mourns the loss of his passing yesterday at the age of 91. A master of music, particularly that which we call jazz. He knew and composed much more music than that. He did so much in his storied career that the lengthy obits in major newspapers and the tributes that will come through jazz websites and periodicals can do little more than scratch the surface.
I won't even attempt to survey his career. His Washington Post obit is here.
He and Miles Davis are the two most recognizable figures to the general public in jazz history. Despite the woeful stature of jazz in America, around the glove it's hard to find anyone who doesn't know those two, even if they know nothing about their mighty musical deeds.
By all standards, Dave Brubeck was a great man. His musical accomplishments are incredibly vast. he was also, by all accounts, a gentleman, generous of spirit. He was a family man. It shows in his children, who are the same. I have never met Dave. I know Dan and Chris. They are tremendous musicians and great guys. The apples falling near the tree.
The last time I saw Dave perform was in 2011 with a band called Triple Play that includes Chris Brubeck. One wouldn't expect a 90-year-old man to come running out on stage, and he didn't. It was a slow, gingerly approach. But the man still played some important piano and he beamed like a child on Christmas. Not all the dexterity was there on the keyboards. But he played the RIGHT stuff and knew how to deliver meaningful music. It might have been his last public performance.
The world has lost a fine spirit and a tremendous musician who made a vast, deep imprint on world culture, not just American culture. Buy the albums, go to YouTube. Experience Dave Brubeck. The music is intricate, intelligent, varied...and joyful.
Glad I got to see him going back to the '70s, playing with Two Generations of Brubeck, a band that included sons Darius, Dan and Chris. Glad I saw the Dave Brubeck Quartet many times through the decades. Glad I saw him over the last few years play at Newport with Tony Bennett and Wynton Marsalis. Glad we had a Dave Brubeck.
Condolences to all the BrubecksWife Iola; sons Dan, Chris, Darius and Matt; daughter Cathy; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, among others.