In 1959, Take Five was the first jazz single to sell a million copies. He was also the first jazz musician to grace the cover of Time Magazine. Brubeck was touring up until last year. He died this morning, one day shy of his 92nd birthday.
According to the NY Times, Brubeck's mother forbid listening to the radio. She believed that if you wanted to hear music, you should play it. He and his two brothers learned instruments. He was born cross-eyed so he couldn't read music. He played by ear.
One of the more interesting stories in the article is crediting Brubeck's wife Iola for his early success.
She was a pioneer promoter.
In 1953 she wrote to more than a hundred universities, suggesting that the quartet would be willing to play for student associations. The college circuit became the group’s bread and butter, and by the end of the 1950s it had sold hundreds of thousands of copies of its albums “Jazz at Oberlin” and “Jazz Goes to College.”
The fur and hammer sound is what got me. The songs are so melodious, but there was an aspect of attack. I liken it to living in New York City (even though Brubeck settled in Wilton, CT).
Here's my favorite, Blue Rondo ala Turk. Check out the use of "green screen" in this video. The Quartet is magic carpeting over an LA freeway. That would be the best way to get around LA. The cops can't ticket you if you're playing music on a magic carpet.