Voices at Large
05 DEC 12 NICK PHILLIPS
This morning the world lost a true music legend. Pianist, composer, bandleader, and jazz ambassador, Dave Brubeck passed away at 91, just a day short of his 92nd birthday. According to his longtime manager-producer-conductor Russell Gloyd, Brubeck died of heart failure, when en route to "a regular treatment with his cardiologist."
In one of the most distinguished careers in jazz, Brubeck's recording vocation began on Fantasy, a label he helped establish in the 1940s. Amongst the many all-time jazz classics he recorded on Fantasy are Jazz At Oberlin and Jazz At The College Of The Pacific -- both of which are enduring documents of Brubeck's pioneering and successful efforts in bringing jazz to college campuses. (College Of The Pacific marked a return to Brubeck's Stockton, California alma mater, where he had met fellow college student Iola Whitlock, who would be his wife of 70 years.)
By 1954 Brubeck was on the cover of Time magazine. And in 1960, with the Time Out album (Columbia) and its singles "Take Five," and "Blue Rondo a La Turk," the Dave Brubeck Quartet reached an unprecedented level of popularity, making Brubeck a household name.
In the late '70s and throughout the '80s he recorded for Concord Jazz -- something of a homecoming for Brubeck, as he was born in Concord, California. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, he recorded for Telarc in a variety of contexts, from solo piano to the ambitious Classical Brubeck, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra. A Dave Brubeck Christmas album, released by Telarc in 1996, became an instant holiday classic and is amongst the best-selling albums of his career.
With the Fantasy, Concord Jazz, and Telarc labels all now under the auspices of Concord Music Group, Brubeck's enduring contributions to Concord Music Group's musical legacy alone are inestimable.
But, one of the most important artists in this history jazz was also one of the kindest and most humble. Jazz journalist Neil Tesser sums it up best in the liner notes for The Very Best Of Dave Brubeck, "...amongst music people-instrumentalists and singers, writers and fans, record producers and concert promoters-you will find a consensus: Dave Brubeck is the nicest man in jazz... when Brubeck's name comes up (inevitably with 'nice' in close proximity), the most reliably cynical speakers soften; their eyes light up, and the word blossoms into a portrait of considerate kindness and unassuming artistry."
For these things, and so much more, Dave Brubeck will be dearly missed.