Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck
Photo: Mike Wohlrab

Dave Brubeck, the pianist who stole our hearts with his Jazz and Classical-inspired music, passed away early Wednesday morning—just one day short of his 92nd birthday. He was on his way to a

routine checkup with his cardiologist when he died of heart failure according to his manager/producer/conductor Russell Gloyd.

“Take Five” and other well-known pieces by Brubeck used complex meters and time signatures not braved by many other Jazz musicians. His musical style was innovative, and he often integrated elements of classical music into his songs.

Dave Brubeck was playing and listening to music in black Jazz clubs before it was accepted or popular for white musicians to do so. These unorthodox methods are a large part of what made Brubeck so unique as a musician and artist. He did not define himself by previous standards and conventions that imprisoned other Jazz and swing musicians of his time.

“For as long as I’ve been playing Jazz, people have been trying to pigeonhole me,” he said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune at one point, adding, “Frankly, labels bore me.”

People like Dave Brubeck are those who see the world through their own eyes, not solely through the narrow looking glass provided by society. He was a humanist, vying for integration before it was the “cool” thing to do, and opening up others’ eyes so they, too, might see their own unique vision.

In his lifetime, Brubeck received several awards, such as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Univeristy of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy. He and his wife, Iola, founded the Brubeck Institute in 2000, which now provides fellowships and educational opportunities for students of Jazz.