Posted on December 5th, 2012
Dave Brubeck passed away today. He was born on December 6, 1920. He would have been 92 years old, had he lived until tomorrow, his birthday. One of the greatest Jazz composers & piano players who ever lived. From 1951 – 1967 the Dave Brubeck Quartet performed some of the best Jazz ever played.
Dave Brubeck was my favorite jazz musician & composer of them all. My three favorite pieces by him are “Take Five” (listen), “Pick Up Sticks” (listen) and “Blue Rondo à la Turk” (listen). Brubeck was notable for experimenting with uncommon time signatures throughout his career, writing notable songs 6/4, 5/4, 7/4, 13/4 and 9/8 times.
Brubeck was widely recognized due to his long career. From his Wikipedia entry:
On April 8, 2008, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presented Brubeck with a “Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy” for offering an American “vision of hope, opportunity and freedom” through his music. “As a little girl I grew up on the sounds of Dave Brubeck because my dad was your biggest fan,” said Rice. The State Department said in a statement that “as a pianist, composer, cultural emissary and educator, Dave Brubeck’s life’s work exemplifies the best of America’s cultural diplomacy.” At the ceremony Brubeck played a brief recital for the audience at the State Department. “I want to thank all of you because this honor is something that I never expected. Now I am going to play a cold piano with cold hands,” Brubeck stated.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver announced on May 28, 2008 that Brubeck would be inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. The induction ceremony occurred December 10, and he was inducted alongside eleven other legendary Californians.
In September 2009, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Brubeck as a Kennedy Center Honoree for exhibiting excellence in performance arts. The Kennedy Center Honors Gala took place on Sunday, December 6 (Brubeck’s 89th birthday) and was broadcast nationwide on CBS on December 29 at 9:00 pm EST.
On September 20, 2009, at Monterey Jazz Festival, Brubeck was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree (D.Mus. honoris causa) from Berklee College of Music.
On May 16, 2010, Brubeck was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree (honoris causa) from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. The ceremony took place on the National Mall.
On July 5, 2010, Brubeck was awarded the Miles-Davis Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. In 2010, Bruce Ricker and Clint Eastwood produced a documentary Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way about Brubeck for Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to commemorate his 90th birthday in December 2010.
Brubeck has become a supporter of the Jazz Foundation of America in their mission to save the homes and the lives of elderly jazz and blues musicians, including musicians that survived Hurricane Katrina. Brubeck supported the Jazz Foundation by performing in their annual benefit concert “A Great Night in Harlem” in 2006.
- Connecticut Arts Award (1987)
- National Medal of Arts, National Endowment for the Arts (1994)
- DownBeat Hall of Fame (1994)
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1996)
- Doctorate honoris causa University of Fribourg, Switzerland (2004)
- Laetare Medal (University of Notre Dame) (2006)
- BBC Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award (2007)
- Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy (2008)
- Inducted into California Hall of Fame (2008)
- Kennedy Centre Honour (2009)
- George Washington University Honorary Degree (2010)
- Honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey (2011)
And for those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Take Five: