I was saddened yesterday to hear the news that the jazz legend Dave Brubeck had passed away at 91 years old; Band leader, jazz innovator and legend, the jazz world will miss him forever. I, perhaps sardonically, however must believe that the pomp and circumstance surrounding his death unwarranted. As a student of the Brubeck Institute at University of the Pacific throughout high school, *(I was not enrolled in the college, however I was taught there and in performances of the jazz bands for 3 summer semesters.) I believe his death was overly dramatized to the point that people overshadow his importance by this new . After seeing Brubeck only twice, both in his very old age in San Francisco Jazz Festivals, I believe that Dave Brubeck is popular by circumstance and luck. Despite his immense talent on the piano, the innovation he is known for is really that of Paul Desmond, his saxophone player. Writer of the standards Take Five and Blue Rondo, songs performed at length and disgusting repetition by us students, I believe that Desmond should deserve the credit here.
It is commonplace that after an artist dies he becomes more popular than ever. The same happened with Warhol and Michael Jackson (among many many others), but this newfound love by what seems to be an incredible amount of the population is unwarranted blind admiration.
Brubeck was immensely talented, but I believe that the musicians he played with and the time period he inhabited are truly the reasons for his popularity. In terms of innovation in jazz, he is no Miles Davis, for talent he is no McCoy Tyner, and as a writer he was no Paul Desmond. Desmond has been gone for over 30 years but should deserve much of the credit.
I do not mean to celebrate Brubeck's death and mean no disrespect to his family, but one must look at the big picture of jazz and question his popularity as an individual. Given this I cannot mourn for Brubeck, the jazz innovator, but for Brubeck, talented pianist and inhabitant of some of the greatest years of jazz and musical innovation.