To people growing up in 1950s America, Dave Brubeck defined jazz music. His songs were in the top 40, his face was on the cover of TIME Magazine, and he performed on college campuses across the country. Ask your average 20-something today about Brubeck and many of them, jazz music lovers aside, won't have a firm sense of who he is.
With Wednesday's news of Brubeck's death I encourage my fellow millennials to take a few minutes and listen to some of Brubeck's music. Brubeck changed jazz. He worked around the normal restrictions placed on jazz music, and wrote and played in tricky meters that at the time just weren't considered jazz-y.
His most universally recognizable, song "Take Five" is demonstrative of that classic Brubeck timing. During a period when Americans were used to hearing songs in 4/4 time, Brubeck's "Take Five" transpired in 5/4.
In the 1950s, Brubeck first broke into the top 40 with a song called "Blue Rondo a la Turk" which he played as part of a quartet. Once again, timing was everything. This time, it was 9/8 time.
The beauty of Burbeck's music speaks for itself. His death, at the age of 91, is a loss for the world of music, jazz music especially. Hopefully, our generation will keep playing Brubeck's songs and pass along the beauty of transformative work.