Jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck died Wednesday morning just one day before he would have been 92. Brubeck suffered a heart failure in Norwalk, CT on his way to a cardiology appointment in.
Renowned for combining classical influences and irregular time signatures, Burbeck released music assiduously from 1949 until 2011. His ground-breaking 1959 record Time Out with the Dave Brubeck Quartet included his most famous recording, “Take Five”. The record was the first jazz LP to sell a million copies. In 1954, Burbeck became the first jazz musician to be featured on the cover of TIME. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 and became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2009.
Burbeck was also a champion of political and civil liberties throughout his career. He refused to play a South African tour in 1958 when confronted with a contract guaranteeing his band would be all white, and was known to cancel other performances that demanded segregation. He toured behind the Iron Curtain, and played for Mikhail Gorbachev at a 1988 dinner in Moscow hosted by President Reagan. “I can’t understand Russian,” Burbeck reportedly said after noticing the general secretary tapping his toes, “but I can understand body language.”
Burbeck is survived by his wife of 70 years, Iola, their four sons and one daughter.