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WRTI 90.1's Essential Jazz Artist No. 3: Dave Brubeck

Getty Images/Metronome
Dave Brubeck, circa 1955

If you “Take Five” to listen to music “In Your Own Sweet Way,” then let’s call a Time Out and just say that you’re thinking of Dave Brubeck. Enough of you did to vote him your No. 3 Most Essential Jazz Artist.

Time Out is one of the biggest jazz albums ever, and “Take Five” may be the biggest selling jazz single of all time. Cool exudes from the unusual rhythmic matrices of Brubeck’s music, and his fine yet orchestral piano playing fronted one of the most recognizable quartets of all time.

  • He could fake pretty well, but his college finally found out that he couldn’t read music. Some professors came to his defense, and he was allowed to graduate only if he promised that he would never teach piano.
  • His family had a cattle ranch outside of San Francisco
  • Alto saxophonist Paul Desmond didn’t like drummer Joe Morello’s playing when Dave first hired him for the quartet, and threatened to quit. Dave said that he could do what he wanted, but that Morello was staying. Needless to say, Brubeck, Desmond, Morello, and bassist Eugene Wright became one of the biggest jazz quartets ever.
  • The Dave Brubeck Quartet was unusual for being an integrated group. Brubeck fought with concert managers and once canceled a TV appearance when he got word that the producer intended to keep African-American bassist Wright off camera.
  • Dave and his wife Iola were married for 70 years.

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