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State and Nation

December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck, legend who helped define jazz, dies

(Continued)

The album also featured "Take Five," the cool and catchy odd-metered tune that became the Brubeck quartet's theme. The tune was derived from a pattern that Morello liked to play backstage. Brubeck asked Desmond to write a two-part melody over the rhythm, and Brubeck patched the pieces together.

"It was a song that people could relate to, and it influenced the future of the music," said George Wein, a jazz pianist and founder of the Newport Jazz Festival.

Brubeck "proved that a song with five beats in it and one with seven beats in it could become popular," pianist Herbie Hancock said in an email.

The jazz master played a key role in popularizing the first jazz festivals in the 1950s, playing at the Newport festival at least 50 times and helping to found the Monterey Jazz Festival.

He was also the first modern jazz musician pictured on the cover of Time magazine — on Nov. 8, 1954.

Brubeck always felt that his successful jazz career led fans to overlook the second career he launched as a jazz-inspired classical orchestral and choral composer in 1967 after disbanding his original quartet.

His experience in World War II led him to look beyond jazz to compose oratorios, cantatas and other extended works touching on themes involving religion, civil rights and peace.

"I knew I wanted to write on religious themes when I was a GI in World War II," Brubeck said, recalling how he was trapped behind German lines in the Battle of the Bulge and nearly killed. "I saw and experienced so much violence that I thought I could express my outrage best with music."

His interest in classical music was inspired by his mother, Elizabeth Ivey Brubeck, a classical pianist, who was initially disappointed by her youngest son's interest in jazz. She later came to appreciate his music.

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