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David Warren (1920 - ) Pianist, composer, and bandleader
The NPR 100: "Take Five"
The best-selling jazz single of the all time came close to not getting released at all. Tony Sarabia has the story behind this track, a selection from National Public Radio's list of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century.
Dave Brubeck received early training in classical music from his mother, a pianist, and by the age of 13 was performing professionally with local jazz groups. In 1941-2, while a music major at the College of the Pacific in Stockton in California, he led a 12-piece band. He also studied classical composition with Darius Milhaud at Mills College. During World War II, he was sent to Europe to lead a service band (1944). After his discharge in 1946, he resumed his studies with Milhaud, and, with fellow students, founded the experimental Jazz Workshop Ensemble, which recorded in 1949 as the Dave
Brubeck Octet. Also in 1949, with Cal Tjader and Norman Bates (whose place was later taken by Ron Crotty), he organized the Dave Brubeck Trio. This group
existed until 1951, when, with the addition of Paul Desmond, Brubeck formed his first quartet. The "classic" Brubeck quartet was created when Brubeck and
Desmond were joined by Joe Morello (1956; and Gene Wright (1958)). This group remained together until 1967, when Brubeck disbanded it to concentrate on
Dave Brubeck Collection, Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
Brubeck's quartet was immensely popular on college campuses in the 1950s; the album Jazz at Oberlin, recorded in concert at that college in 1953, contains some of Brubeck's (and especially Desmond's) finest improvisations. In 1954, as a sign of his growing popularity, Brubeck's picture appeared on the cover of Time. He also left
Fantasy for Columbia Records. During the 1950s and 1960s, he began experimenting with time signatures unusual in jazz, such as 5/4, 9/8, and 11/4. By 1959, he
recorded the first jazz instrumental piece to sell a million copies, entitled Desmond's Take Five (in 5/4 meter), which was released with his own Blue Rondo a la Turk (in
9/8, grouped 2+2+2+3). Only Max Roach preceded Brubeck in the successful integration of irregular meters and jazz forms.
NPR's Jazz Profiles: Dave Brubeck
Host Nancy Wilson presents this profile of composer and pianist Dave Brubeck. Featured are remarks by historian Ted Goia, pianist and educator Dr. Billy Taylor, and former Brubeck drummer Joe Dodge.
Brubeck, who considers himself in essence "a composer who plays the piano," has written and, in some instances, recorded several large-scale compositions since
the 1960s, including two ballets, a musical, an oratorio, four cantatas, a mass, works for jazz group and orchestra, and many pieces for solo piano. In the
1970s, he organized several new quartets which at various times included one or more of his sons: the keyboard player (David) Darius Brubeck (b. San Francisco, June 14, 1947), the trombonist and electric bass guitarist Chris Brubeck (b. Los Angeles, March 19, 1952), and the drummer and percussionist Danny (Daniel) Brubeck
(b. Oakland, May 4, 1955). Brubeck has appeared at the Newport (1958, 1972, 1981), Monterey (1962, 1980), Concord (1982), and Kool jazz festivals,
and performed at the White House (1964, 1981). During the 1950s and 1960s, he was a frequent winner of popularity polls in Down Beat, Metronome, and other
magazines. In 1976, Brubeck performed and recorded again with Desmond, Morello, and Wright to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the formation of his first
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