Dave Brubeck Dies at 91 and I Recall the Interview That Almost Didn't Happen

I asked him what he was listening to currently, and he said he was so busy that sitting down to listen to anything--the way one must listen to fully grasp it--was a "major chore." If he had his druthers, it would be Bach or Stravinsky or Bartok or Chopin or Liszt or Debussy or Ravel or Charles Ives; "you could almost list everything," Brubeck informed.

Did he consider those masters influences?

"Everything you hear is an influence," he answered. "Everybody who has gone before me has been influenced by what's been before them, so everybody's been influenced by what they've heard."

His thoughts that day were as logical, stripped-down and free-flowing as his music, which brought up the question of whether he ever gets sick of playing "Take Five," which arguably defines American jazz.

"Well, you don't play it the same," he said. "You play it differently every night. You play the theme the same way, which is one-tenth or one-twentieth of the song, depending on the night of the performance. The rest of the time you are playing improvisation, so you never get tired of that."

He added he never knew where that improvisation would take him, but we know: into ears all over the world.

Brubeck is survived by Iola, four sons (all musicians like their dad), a daughter, grandsons and a great granddaughter.

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3 comments
JackGrimshaw
JackGrimshaw

First hearing "Take Five" (more years ago than I care to remember), I put right up there with the opening guitar riff of "Satisfaction" (debuted on British pirate radio, 1965). Once heard, never forgotten. RIP: Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

@JackGrimshaw When I was looking up how many kids and grandkids and the great-grandkid Brubeck leaves behind, I noticed someone mentioned he was the first jazz artist to reach pop-like status. Dammit, I'm going to slap the vinyl onto the record player right now!

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