STOCKTON (CBS13/AP) – Pioneering jazz musician and University of Pacific graduate Dave Brubeck died Wednesday, one day shy of his 92nd birthday.
Russell Gloyd, Brubeck’s manager, said Brubeck died Wednesday morning of heart failure after being stricken while on his way to a cardiology appointment with his son in Hartford, Conn.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s pieces such as “Take Five” caught listeners’ ears with exotic, challenging rhythms and became enduring standards.
In 1954 he was the first modern jazz musician to be pictured on the cover of Time magazine.
The quartet’s 1959 album “Time Out” was the first ever million-selling jazz LP. “Take Five,” a cut from that album by saxophonist Paul Desmond, became the group’s signature theme.
Brubeck graduated from Pacific in 1942. In 2000, the university established The Brubeck Institute to honor Brubeck and his wife, Iola. According to the institute’s website, its mission is to build on Brubeck’s legacy and “his lifelong dedication to music, creativity, education, and the advancement of important social issues including civil rights, environmental concerns, international relations, and social justice.”
“Clearly we are sad to lose such a treasure, but also thankful to have had Dave Bruekbeck life, presence, energy with us for such a long 60-year career,” said Simon RoWe, director of the Brubeck Institute.
Brubeck was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2009, he was honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Born in Concord on Dec. 6. 1920, Brubeck began piano lessons with his mother at age 4, but those ended when he was 12 and his father moved the family to a cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierras. As a teenager, he played in local dance bands on the weekends.
When he enrolled at the College of the Pacific in 1938, Brubeck had intended to major in veterinary medicine and return to ranching. But while working his way through college by playing piano in local nightclubs, he became smitten with jazz and changed his major to music. He graduated in 1942 and then served in World War II.
A special plaque is feet from the college’s concert hall stage. The institute created in his honor has an entire collection filled with artifacts from the jazz giant in the library.
Instructors draw inspiration not only from Brubeck’s work as a musician, but as an activist unafraid to break social barriers.
“These records tell us about Dave’s feelings toward Civil Rights in the 1950s, ’60s, and the way he used his music as a cultural diplomat. He traveled to other countries to show them the American culture, to tell them the jazz culture is good, and we need to understand we are part of this whole world,” said archivist Michael Wurtz.
In 1942, he married Iola Whitlock, a fellow Pacific student who became his lifelong partner, librettist, and sometime manager.
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