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In memoriam: Dave Brubeck

By Ted Gioia


I first met Dave Brubeck when I was in my twenties, and writing my book on West Coast jazz. Dave deeply impressed me, and not just as a musician. How many celebrities have a marriage that lasts 70 years? I think Dave is the only one. He was a very caring family man, a good dad and husband – never a given in the entertainment industry. He was a pioneer on civil rights, threatening to cancel concerts when faced with complaints about his integrated band. He served his country as a soldier (at the Battle of the Bulge) and as both an official and unofficial ambassador. When Reagan met Gorbachev, Dave Brubeck was there, bringing people together with his music. I’ve talked to many of his friends over the years, and they tell stories of his kindness and loyalty. You could a learn a lot from Dave Brubeck just by watching how he conducted himself offstage. And then there is the public side of his music career, with all those concerts and recordings that reached tens of millions of people. I was privileged to know him, but many who simply experienced his artistry through his music will also miss him and grieve at his passing. God bless you, Dave!

Dave Brubeck
6 December 1920 – 5 December 2012

Dave Brubeck Quartet at Congress Hall Frankfurt/Main (1967). From left to right: Joe Morello, Eugene Wright, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. GNU Free Documentation License via Wikimedia Commons user dontworry.



Ted Gioia is a musician, author, jazz critic and a leading expert on American music. His books The History of Jazz and Delta Blues were both selected as notable books of the year in The New York Times. He is also the author of The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire, West Coast Jazz, Work Songs, Healing Songs and The Birth (and Death) of the Cool.

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3 Responses to “In memoriam: Dave Brubeck”
  1. [...] Oxford OUP’s blog, Ted Gioia says: He was a pioneer on civil rights, threatening to cancel concerts when faced with [...]

  2. [...] On Oxford OUP’s blog, Ted Gioia says: He was a pioneer on civil rights, threatening to cancel concerts when faced with complaints about his integrated band. He served his country as a soldier (at the Battle of the Bulge) and as both an official and unofficial ambassador. When Reagan met Gorbachev, Dave Brubeck was there, bringing people together with his music. I’ve talked to many of his friends over the years, and they tell stories of his kindness and loyalty. You could a learn a lot from Dave Brubeck just by watching how he conducted himself offstage. And then there is the public side of his music career, with all those concerts and recordings that reached tens of millions of people. I was privileged to know him, but many who simply experienced his artistry through his music will also miss him and grieve at his passing. God bless you, Dave! [...]

  3. [...] In memoriam: Dave Brubeck | OUPblog By Ted Gioia I first met Dave Brubeck when I was in my twenties, and writing my book on West Coast jazz. Dave deeply impressed me… [...]

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