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Dave Brubeck’s Alternative Ambitions

Posted on Dec 5, 2012
darinmcclure (CC BY 2.0)

Dave Brubeck went into heart failure on his way to a cardiology appointment.

The celebrated musician, who died Wednesday at age 91 in a hospital in Connecticut, didn’t start out with the desire to perform one of jazz music’s iconic tunes.

The artist behind the 1959 single “Take Five,” featured on the first million-selling record in jazz history, originally wanted to be a cattle rancher like his father in the California foothills. After initial training as a veterinarian, his teacher suggested he try music instead. Born to a mother who played piano, Brubeck made some side money performing in local nightclubs on weekends.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


Their 1959 album, Time Out, was significant for its use of uncommon, complex time signatures - influenced by the pianist’s classical training.

The record spawned Take Five, the biggest-selling jazz single of all time - and used as the theme tune to several TV programmes throughout the years, including Channel 4’s Secret Life of Machines, and NBC’s Today programme.

It was, however, the one track on the album not written by Brubeck himself, having been composed by his long-time saxophonist Paul Desmond.

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