Legendary jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck has died at age 91. The Chicago Tribune quotes Brubeck's manager as saying the musician died of heart failure Wednesday morning at Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut. He would have been 92 on Thursday.
Brubeck rose to prominence in the 1950s, breaking new ground with innovative rhythms seldom heard in jazz performance, in the process exposing the form to a broader audience and in many ways, helping earn it respectability as a "serious" music form.
Brubeck's best-known popular work is the 1959 album Time Out, with The Dave Brubeck Quartet. The album featured unusual time signatures and combined various jazz styles into a signature sound, exemplified by the album's best-known track, "Take Five" -- the name itself taken from the track's 5/4 time signature. Time Out became the first million-selling jazz album, while "Take Five" was the first jazz single to go gold.
Donald Fagen of Steely Dan name-checked Brubeck in his 1982 solo album The Nightfly. On the song "New Frontier," he sings, "I hear you're mad about Brubeck/I like your eyes, I like him, too/He's an artist, a pioneer."
In a statement, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said, "Brubeck showed that jazz could be artistically challenging yet accessible to large audiences. His recordings have received both commercial and critical success, and will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come. We have lost a great legend in our community, and our thoughts and condolences go to his family, friends and all those he inspired."
Brubeck was also an early proponent of racial integration in America, and took pride in playing black jazz clubs in the South in the 1950s, reports the Tribune.
Brubeck is survived by his wife, five children and various grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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