RIP Dave Brubeck (1920-2012)
As our music media continues to focus on Taylor Swift's hotel room sleepovers and Shakira's $100 million dollar lawsuit, a major, mind-numbingly influential figure has passed in our midst.
Dave Brubeck, one America's greatest cultural treasures—the man who got late-50s America dancing in 5/4 time with Paul Desmond's seminal track "Take Five"—died today of heart failure, a single day ahead of his 92nd birthday.
Maybe you haven't heard of Dave Brubeck, and unless you sat through hours of jazz appreciation class in high school, we can't really blame you. Pop music fans have a nasty habit of writing jazz off completely, mostly because it's such a dauntingly rich and nuanced genre. But until you've sunk your teeth into the untouchable discography of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, you probably should take a pass on illegally downloading the next Purity Ring single--no offense Corin and Megan!
More than almost anyone else, Brubeck redefined the role of the jazz musician, and walked through the walls hemming in standard conceptions of genre as if they weren't even there. He was a classically trained pianist who brought his talent to jazz, and almost single handedly proved that jazz was an idiom that deserves a place among the highest forms of art.
What blows my mind about Brubeck has always been "Take Five." It's a melody that's existed in my brain since before I can remember, like the Mario theme or the Crossfire commercial. What's so spectacular about the piece is that it's in 5/4, a time signature which almost no pop music even begins to touch (besides Sunny Day Real Estate). The reason no one touches it is because it's just not catchy. With "Take Five," Brubeck and Desmond managed to create a melody everyone knows, in a time signature no one understands. It's more than just an achievement, it's a challenge to take your audience more seriously. Even if Brubeck's catalog had begun and ended with "Take Five," his impact on the music world would still resonate well beyond that of many of his contemporaries (and successors) combined. Magic.
Follow Ben on Twitter - @b_shap
The Score: Mapping the Music and Style of 'That Thing You Do!'
Sixties chic via the 90s and that one song over and over and over.
We're Premiering Big K.R.I.T.'s "Steps" Documentary & a New Song Feat. Big SANT & Smoke DZA
#weekofKRIT Is Almost Over.
Kanye West and Crustpunk: Together at Last
It's the Leftöver Crack/Kanye mashup you've been waiting for.
Welcome to Koch Boyz, Where We Document What French Montana and the Koch Brothers Are Up To
Welcome to Koch Boyz, a column dedicated to any time the Koch Brothers and French Montana do anything within a few days of each other.
Watch Mark McGuire's Pretty Personal Video for "The Human Condition"
Former Emeralds guitarist incorporates footage from his Dad's "celebrity roast" back in 89...
Listen to a Preview of Julian Casablancas' New Solo LP
The Strokes frontman teases us with what's to come under his new guise Julian Casablancas + The Voidz.
Dum Dum Girls - "Are You Okay" (By Bret Easton Ellis, Official Short Film)
The Dum Dum Girls team up with Bret Easton Ellis in this anxious tale of chilling neurosis. Plus a very personal interview with Dee Dee.
Inside Icona Pop's Wardrobe on Miley's Bangerz Tour
How can you compete with Miley's tongue? By dressing like a cyber warrior from future planet called Awesome.
Listen to an Unreleased Unwound Track, and Read Our In-Depth Interview
Numero Group has taken it upon themselves to give the cult band the historical treatment they deserve.
Real Estate: The Atlas of New Jersey
The band opens up about being called a beach band and how the internet is ruining our lives.