Legendary Jazz Pianist Dave Brubeck

Posted October 24th, 2012 at 5:27 pm (UTC+0)

Dave Brubeck

In this Dec. 6, 2009, file photo President Barack Obama waves to Kennedy Center honorees, from left, Dave Brubeck, Grace Bumbry, Robert De Niro and Bruce Springsteen in the East Room of the White House in Washington (AP)

Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC – The legendary American jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, one of the most exciting names in music, will celebrate his 92nd birthday on December 6. Due to medical tests, Brubeck was unavailable for an interview with Jazz Beat, but Russell Gloyd, his producer, manager and conductor for the past 35 years said the iconic pianist is still committed to daily practice.

“He does practice almost every day,” confirmed Gloyd in an interview with VOA’s Jazz Beat (mp3 here). “And it’s amazing to hear him practice because I’m hearing tunes I’ve never heard in my life.”


According to Gloyd, the group just released a 19-CD box set which covers all of the studio recordings of the classic Brubeck Quartet. “And we are now starting to look at doing another box which will exceed 19 CDs – which would be featuring all live recordings,” he said.

Dave Brubeck's Legacy CD

Dave Brubeck’s Legacy CD

Columbia Records released a double album set on Dave Brubeck’s 90th birthday in 2010.  Legacy of a Legend features influential pieces in jazz history recorded between 1954 and 1970.  It includes vocal collaborations with jazz legends like Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Rushing and Carmen McRae.

The last time Brubeck talked with VOA was in 1990, backstage at the JVC Jazz Festival in Saratoga Springs, New York. In an interview with my colleague Doug Levine, the legendary pianist explained how jazz started as a cry for freedom.


I played Brubeck’s music frequently on Jazz Club USA, a music show I hosted for 10 years for enthusiasts in the Middle East. He is best known for the hit “Take Five,” from his top-selling album Time Out. The song was frequently requested by listeners in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Iraq for dedication to family and friends.


Take Five” was first released in 1959 and became the best-selling jazz single of all time. It was written by Brubeck’s long-time music partner, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. It has been included in a new two-disc collection of other familiar classics such as the “Blue Rondo a la Turk” — inspired during a Brubeck tour in Turkey in 1958 — and “Pick Up Sticks”. At the time, Brubeck was America’s jazz ambassador, named by the U.S. State Department. The legendary pianist and his Quartet have also toured the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

Another hit song that contributed to Brubeck’s worldwide fame is “Unsquare Dance” from his album Time Further Out. “It was a huge hit in France,” noted Gloyd.

Brubeck, who was featured on the cover of TIME magazine  in 1954, has also composed orchestral and sacred music. In addition, Brubeck wrote soundtracks for television shows such as Mr. Broadway and the animated mini-series This Is America, Charlie Brown.

The soon-to-be 92 Dave Brubeck is still going strong!  He is often saluted by a standing ovation during his emotionally-charged performances.


Diaa Bekheet
Diaa Bekheet has worked for a host of media outlets, including Radio Cairo in English, ETV News, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and the Associated Press. He joined VOA in Feb. 1989 as an International Broadcaster, hosting a variety of popular news and entertainment shows such as Newshour, Radio Ride Across America, Business Week, and Jazz Club USA. He has interviewed a number of Jazz celebrities, including the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, Ramsey Lewis, Wayne Shorter, and George Benson. Diaa is currently an editor for our main English site, VOAnews.com.

2 responses to “Legendary Jazz Pianist Dave Brubeck”

  1. Truman Antonucci says:

    I really like your writing style, great info, thank you for putting up :D. c

  2. Monica Savasta says:

    Goodbye to my favorite jazz artist who left this earth on December 5th. I do hope Dave’s idea of heaven is as he said and he is jammin’ with Dizzie and the other jazz greats on cloud 9!



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