Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012

Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck dead at age 91 [Chicago Tribune]

Article says he died one day short of his 92nd birthday, en route to his cardiologist’s. He had a long innings, and it sounds as if his years of old age were pleasant ones. I hope they were. He gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure. He was a good man and a great musician. He’ll be very welcome in the Elysian Fields.

I left my comment above and went to Wikipedia to read up on him. There’s a great story there. A story so good in fact, that I stopped reading the entry and rushed back here to report. His piano teacher was his well-qualified mother, whose teacher in England was Myra Hess. She evidently failed to spot that he couldn’t actually read the notation but was faking it. Much later, when his college discovered that, they considered expelling him or at least not granting his degree but settled for making him promise he would never teach piano.

Great tweet from Ken Jennings: “Is it wrong to be sad that Brubeck died on 12/5 instead of 7/4 or 5/4 or 9/8”

@nojo: @Benedick: The time signature for “Take Five” is 9/8, correct?

@nojo: He may not have been able to read music but man, could he ever count!

@matador1015: I don’t read music. I just have opinions about it. It’s a jazz waltz so that sounds about right: three/four with a skip in it.

@lynnlightfoot: Even more impressively, Brubeck and Desmond showed that you can sustain delightful melodies over (@Benedick) awkward time signatures.

@matador1015: Don’t make me go Blue Rondo on yer arse.


Take Five for Dummies: 1-2-3 / 1-2 (5/4).

Blue Rondo for Dummies: 1-2 / 1-2 / 1-2 / 1-2-3 (9/8)

Mission Impossible for Dummies: 1-2-3 / 1-2-3 / 1-2 / 1-2 (actually 5/4, but that’s how the beats break down).

Thus concludes our brief musical tour of the Awkwardly Swinging Sixties.

@nojo: I worked at a college station many years ago and read some liner notes about Brubeck. As I recall, they put Take Five at 9/8; being only semi-literate in music theory, I accepted this at face value. Time sigs always trip me up, although now I see how Blue Rondo would be 9/8.

@matador1015: Stupid liner notes. “Take Five” is a pun on the time signature.

Will be missed. I’ll have to listen to “Blue Rondo a la Turk” as I pick up the kids from school today.

@nojo: Take Five is in 5/4, which is not difficult to play. Even my garage band buddies can play it. I believe that Paul Desmond is usually credited with the tune. A lot of people in the jazz community at the time criticized Brubeck’s music as too white. He didn’t give a fuck.

@nojo: Postscript:

The Eleven (Grateful Dead) for Dummies: 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2 (11/4)

@Walking Still: I’m going to have to tap out some Zappa if this keeps up.

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