Pianist and composer Dave Brubeck died this morning at 91.
I mention here for selfish reasons; Brubeck represents by far the most accomplished musician I ever got a chance to play with. He was 82 at the time, and a group from my college’s jazz band got to perform with him at Constitution Hall in DC. We practiced with him only once beforehand, and my cell phone went off while he was taking to us — it was my first cell phone, and I was still learning appropriate cell-phone etiquette. Before the show, I ran into Brubeck by the sinks in the bathroom, and he complimented my range on the trombone and reminded me to turn off my phone before the show. He seemed like a pretty cool guy, and he was still awesome at the piano.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with Brubeck, you’ve probably heard this one. Improvising in unusual time signatures is not an easy thing to do: