Fifty years after the release of his seminal 1959 album “Time Out” and on the day of his 89th birthday, Dave Brubeck was honored by the Kennedy Center. The gala event, which honors lifetime achievement in the performing arts, will air on CBS December 29.

The Washington Post has a Brubeck profile here, while the Washington Times has coverage here.

In the ’50s, Brubeck largely made his name playing on college campuses. In 1954 his popularity landed him a cover story in Time Magazine, a controversial choice as Brubeck was chosen over more important black jazz artists of the period. The accusation that he can’t swing and is the leading example of White Jazz Lite continues to this day. Click here for a discussion of Brubeck’s music with critic Stanley Crouch and Ted Gioia, author of “West Coast Jazz,” which I read over the summer and recommend to anyone interested in jazz and postwar California.

Below is a 1954 shot from the LIFE archives:

And here’s “Take Five,” the first million-selling jazz single, and only Billboard hit ever in 5/4 time: