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Video: Jazz Pioneer Dave Brubeck Dies at 91

Dave Brubeck, the pioneering pianist who played on jazz classics including "Take Five" and "Unsquare Dance" is dead.


Dave Brubeck, the pianist and composer who gave the world some of its best-loved jazz classics, is dead.

Brubeck suffered heart failure this morning at a hospital in Norwalk, Conn., where he was due to see his cardiologist, his manager and collaborator Russell Gloyd told the Chicago Tribune.

He would have been 92 tomorrow.

The California native achieved worldwide fame with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, whose albums sold by the millions in the 1950s and '60s.

Their performances in those years–on college campuses, in cities, and with other jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie–are credited with introducing jazz to thousands of young people, Brubeck's official website states.

Many of the quartet's recordings, including "Take Five," "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "Unsquare Dance," are now considered jazz standards, yet as the Tribune points out, their difficult meters "transcended standard conceptions of swing rhythm" and defied many musical conventions.

"Take Five" would go on to be the biggest-selling jazz single of all time, according to the BBC.

After disbanding the quartet in 1967, Brubeck continued to tour and to compose works for orchestra, for ballet and sacred music.

He received numerous honors during his lifetime, including the National Medal of the Arts, the Smithsonian Medal, the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also the second jazz musician ever to make it onto the cover of Time magazine, in 1954, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Here he is with his quartet in 1961, performing their best-known song: