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Dave Brubeck

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollDecember 5, 2012 10:40 PM


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Dave Brubeck, an innovative and influential jazz pianist over many years, has died at the age of 91. Based in California, he was a leader of so-called West Coast Jazz, bringing a spirit of experimentation to a part of the jazz world that had been resolutely mainstream. Brubeck loved to experiment with unusual time signatures, a tendency that culminated in his masterpiece album, Time Out. The tune played above, Blue Rondo à la Turk, is predominantly in 9/8 time, with the beats broken mostly into a 2+2+2+3 pattern. But things aren't quite so simple, as Wikipedia explains. The best thing about Brubeck's experimentations was that they never sounded formal; they were highly musical and fun to listen to, seemingly flowing without effort unless you tried to really focus on what was going on. He was a much-beloved figure in jazz, and will be sorely missed. Update: An anecdote from Russ Gershon on Facebook:

I heard him tell a story of when he was on the cover of Time in the late 50s. He was at a hotel with Duke Ellington (they were playing in the same jazz festival, maybe Newport). When Brubeck learned about the coverage he immediately went to Duke's room and apologized that it was him and not Duke who first earned Time's cover.

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