Dave Brubeck, the jazz pianist, composer and bandleader behind the legendary Dave Brubeck Quartet, has died at age 91.
The death of Brubeck, whose quartet performed “Take Five,” which became a jazz standard and the bestselling jazz single of all time, was confirmed Wednesday by the Associated Press. Brubeck would have turned 92 Thursday.
According to the AP, Brubeck died of heart failure after being stricken while on the way to a cardiologist's appointment in Connecticut.
Brubeck, born Dec. 6, 1920, in Concord, Calif., was the son of a cattle rancher. His mother was a classically trained pianist. Although he studied zoology at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, he came to love the music department. While serving in the Army during World War II, Brubeck formed the band the Wolfpack. After the war in the Bay Area he experimented with music groups and styles.
In 1951 he and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond created what would become one of the most popular acts of West Coast jazz, the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The quartet's most famous piece was "Take Five," composed by Desmond, from the 1959 release "Time Out.
During his career, Brubeck also created standards such as "The Duke" and "In Your Own Sweet Way."
In a 2010 article on the occasion of Brubeck's 90th birthday, the Los Angeles Times interviewed the jazz legend and noted that although jazz may not occupy the center of the musical universe, even people who know little, if anything, about jazz know of Brubeck:
"Through more than 60 years of recordings and performances at colleges, concert halls, festivals and nightclubs all over the world, Brubeck put forth a body of work — as pianist, composer and bandleader — that is as accessible as it is ingenious, as stress-free as it is rhythmically emphatic, as open-hearted as it is wide-ranging."
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[For the record 10:42 a.m. Dec. 5: An earlier version of this post credited Dave Brubeck with composing "Take Five." The work was composed by Paul Desmond. Thanks to Lincoln Harrison of CSUN for pointing it out.]