Legendary jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck passed away Wednesday morning, just one day short of his 92nd birthday.
His name is so synonymous with the history of modern jazz that even people like Odd Future's Tyler, the Creator used it as shorthand when trying to explain the hip-hop/jazz fusion of BADBADNOTGOOD.
Not only influential, he was also wildly popular throughout his career, enjoying the kind of mass appeal that few of his contemporaries ever would. His iconic 1959 album Time Out was the first jazz LP to sell a million copies, and the song Take Five even made the Billboard singles chart. While not his composition, Take Five would be forever associated with him, and helped bring jazz to a much larger audience than ever before.
Despite being pop star-famous, he was still first and foremost a pusher of boundaries, and made his name with unconventional time signatures and rhythms instead of nostalgia trips. Many would argue that his adventurous spirit was exactly what led to his great commercial success. Even when NOW critics hated what he was up to, no one could accuse him of playing it safe and resting on his (considerable) laurels.
A bridge builder, he not only helped bring jazz into the world of academia, but he also made a point of playing black clubs in the South during the 1950s. To him, jazz was an approach and a philosophy, which could be applied to any type of composition, even classical music pieces.
He was a true lifer, and was still touring as recently as 2009. We're thankful that he ditched his original life plan of becoming a rancher, as without his contributions, modern music wouldn't be the same.