Dave Brubeck Is Gone

Dave Brubeck died this morning. He would have celebrated his 92nd birthday tomorrow. Russell Gloyd, Brubeck’s manager and conductor of the pianist and composer’s extended orchestral works, said that Brubeck suffered cardiac arrest. In fragile health for several years, he was being driven from his home in Wilton Connecticut to an appointment with his heart doctor in nearby Norwalk.

For a comprehensive obituary tracing the career that made Brubeck one of the few jazz artists to achieve mass popular acceptance, go to Ben Ratliff’s article in The New York Times.

Later, I will post thoughts about Dave during the 57 years of our acquaintance.

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  1. Frank Roellinger says

    I express my condolences to Iola and all the rest of the Brubeck family. I first heard Dave in person in 1961 at the age of 15. Since then I’m sure that a week has not gone by for me without listening to at least one of his recordings. I can’t imagine what my life would have been without his music. He and Iola created “The Real Ambassadors” and Dave himself was the best of all Ambassadors of jazz. No one could have done more for this uniquely American art form, nor contributed more to it, than he did. Rest In Peace — then head for those heavenly jam sessions!

  2. says

    In the early 1980’s, I often played substitute hostess dj on WGBH-FM in Boston for regular host Ron Della Chiesa. The program was called Music America, and ran a lengthy five hours with an eclectic mix of jazz and pop. On one of Dave’s birthdays, I chose to devote the entire program to his music. As the clock neared the 5PM hour, Dave telephoned from his Connecticut home to thank me, and said he’d been listening for most of the day. You can guess how much this meant to me. Rest in peace, Dave, and thanks a million for your talent, intellect and generosity.

  3. Cветлана says

    So sad…
    Please give the condolences to the family from Russia. His is well- known and wil be long remembered here.

  4. Rob D says

    What a long and productive life Dave had. His music lives on….
    My condolences go out to his extended family and to many contributors here who knew the man personally. I’ve learned a lot about him from this blog that greatly enhanced my listening experience.
    RIP to a legend.

  5. says

    R.I.P. Master Dave Brubeck.

    Your wonderful music will live on. You set an example for everyone who still thinks in categories. You were beyond all them, as the Duke would have put it.

    Your lifelong fight against any kind of discrimination won’t be forgotten. I still vividly remember the story you’d told in an interview for Ken Burn’s Jazz film, and will gladly quote it here:

    “Brubeck told Burns’ cameras that it was his father…who taught him as a very young boy about race in America. When a young Brubeck asked his father about the terrible scars he’d seen on the body of one of his father’s black ranch hands, his father explained the racist burning incident that caused them. And then he told his young son “this must never happen” again.”

    The quote is from the Dave Brubeck obituary in the online edition of The Buffalo News.

    Thanks for all the great music, Dave Brubeck. Your recordings will be played for the next hundred years and longer.

    • says

      Now, since I’ve written my own three-part obituary on Dave Brubeck, I’ve spent some time on the mad, wild & chaotic web for reading a few other obituaries on Dave. One of the most stupid headlines is “enhancing” the DB obit in Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)The White Ambassador Of Jazz. I always thought segregation was long over.

      Alas, the headlines of Germany’s leading online newspapers (also the articles!) aren’t that much better:

      Dave Brubeck:The-Jazzman-Who-Fell-Out-Of-Time, or this: The Johann Sebastian Bach Of Jazz

      Thanks to a few knowledgeable readers who corrected some of the mistakes in the articles by their, sometimes almost angry comments. The most hilarious mistake was “Dave Brubeck augmented his quartet to a trio.” It’s corrected now.

      Most deplorable is the fact that only one person stood up against the, in my opinion, racist headline of the NZZ. You may meanwhile know that I’m not exactly a fan of “political correctness”, “the scissors in the head”, as we say in Germany, but this is simply too much.

      They should have read the full-length Ken Burns interview with Dave Brubeck, then some of those weird writings wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

  6. Dr. Mike Baughan says

    While killing time at work 2days ago, I thumbed through my new, Dec. 2012 issue of Downbeat that has the 77th Annual Readers Poll. Not that we all care about such things, but if you turn to page 56, after all these many years in the Jazz business, look whose picture adorns that page. Also note who came in 1st Place under the Jazz Group Category among all others on the planet, literally 1 day short of his 92 birthday!

    May Brubeck And Desmond continue to jam into eternity. Thanks Doug &Happy Holidays.

  7. mel says

    One of the best videos with the classic Quartet, is Dave Brubeck Quartet – Jazz Pour Tous in Belgium.

    St Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) 0:00
    Koto Song (Brubeck) 8:11
    Three To Get Ready (Brubeck) 14:12
    In Your Own Sweet Way (Brubeck) 18:30
    Take Five (Desmond) 24:39

    Filmed in Belgium, 10 October 1964.

    Dave Brubeck – Piano
    Paul Desmond – Alto Saxophone
    Joe Morello – Drums
    Gene Wright – Bass

    It’s a wonderful memento.

    My condolences to Iola, Darius and Matthew, and the other family members whom I haven’t met. Dave’s music will live on.

    • Doug Ramsey says

      The link in Mel’s comment takes you to a YouTube page with pieces from the Jazz Icons DVD that includes the Belgium concert. Video of the entire concert has been removed from YouTube because of a copyright claim.

  8. Larry Dunlap says

    How great to hear this. Thanks. Dave and I crossed paths several times over the years. Never knew him well, but he was always very friendly. In about 1965, when I was in high school, two friends and I had a trio and we fell in love with The Real Ambassadors. Dave sent us original scripts and we performed it with high school singers. A very big thrill. He has a special place in my musical heart.

  9. Terence Smith says

    Dave Brubeck had such a wonderful life, and his life touches so many others. Dave’s creative spirit is so full of life, always. Condolences to Iola Brubeck and family, and to the vast extended Brubeck family of his listeners.


    I first heard Dave Brubeck in 1956 and since then have enjoyed thousands of hours listening to his musical genius. Not only was Dave a marvelous musician but what a wonderful example for all jazz muscians as a person of the highest integrity. Someone who was willing – regardless of the cost – to stand for his beliefs.My thoughts and prayers are with Iola and Daves family.

  11. says


    Dave Brubeck, I believe, was a genius, genius being defined as one who changes the course of history, in Brubeck’s case, musical history. He was a prolific composer in all genres, out-distancing Mozart; a pianist of originality and power who has influenced all of us, leaving an enormous legacy in recorded works.

    He was a giant among giants and a kind and generous human being always in high spirits. In writing my forthcoming book (March, 2013) on his music, I got to know him more intimately and felt he was a friend. Dave was never too busy to come to the phone when I called, never, unless he was sleeping!

    Iola, Dave and his gifted children have given the world great and exciting music that will be around for a long, long time. An inspiration to all.

  12. Rick M says

    My favorite live music experiences involved Dave Brubeck.

    In 1993 I celebrated my 40th birthday at a Brubeck appearance at the Maryland Inn in Annapolis.
    As a Newport festival regular in recent years my favorite memories are enjoying a cigar in the August sunshine listening to Dave play that years’ incarnation of Take Five.

    No more.