When it comes to the great jazz musicians of the 20th century, Dave Brubeck is a name that’s right up there with Duke Ellington, Thelonius monk, and Miles Davis. On December 5, 2012, one day before his 92nd birthday, Dave Brubeck passed away.
The jazz pianist and composer is often seen as the father of progressive jazz. However, he wrote numerous jazz standards that have stood the test of time, including “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke.”
No doubt, Brubeck’s most well known piece is the groundbreaking jazz tune, “Take Five.” The song uses a rare 5/4 time signature, which is perhaps most comfortable to listen to out of his assortment of odd time signatures.
Brubeck was famous for creating songs that used odd – and sometimes uncomfortable – time signatures. “World’s Fair,” for example, has a 13/4 time signature. “Blue Rondo à la Turk” has a 9/8 signature, and “Unsquare Dance” has a 7/4 signature.
If it weren’t for Dave Brubeck’s ingenuity and love of musical risk-taking, jazz would be a world with a lot less color. Many musicians cite Brubeck’s willingness to explore unusual time signatures as the inspiration for their own exploratory attitudes.
Commenting on his own willingness to explore music, Dave Brubeck said:
“There’s a way of playing safe, there’s a way of using tricks and there’s the way I like to play which is dangerously where you’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven’t created before.”
This kind of dangerous, risk-taking attitude is the hallmark of the late Dave Brubeck, who will be deeply missed by 21st century jazz. However, Brubeck has left his own indelible mark in the instruments and creative souls of thousands of musicians, spanning genres from jazz to pop to blues. Through these musical explorers, Dave Brubeck’s spirit lives on.