Take 50: Dave Brubeck Honored at Kennedy Center

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:

4 Comments on "Take 50: Dave Brubeck Honored at Kennedy Center"

  1. Michael Mattis | December 8, 2009 at 6:26 pm |

    A fitting tribute to a living legend. I hope you pointed Barnaby to this post. He’s a big Brubeck fan.

  2. By the way, Mattis, Paul Desmond (sax) is an SF State alum.

    Desmond’s style is perfect for the theme from MASH:


  3. Brubeck is the BEST! Dad saw him play several times with the quartet.

    You should check out the British film “All Night Long” (If you can get a copy). It has an amazing set played by Mr. Brubeck along with amazing sack suits and mid century sets. Charles Mingus and Johnny Dankworth are also featured. Patrick McGoohan is incredible and also plays the drums.


  4. Regarding Take 50: Honoring Dave Brubeck

    I saw him in concert in the ’80s. The show was good, but I will never forget the slovenly appearance of Mr. Brubeck. It was as though he did not care enough to dress for such a small show and I was very disappointed. The MJQ played the same venue a couple of years earlier and dressed in classic MJQ fashion, in tuxedos.


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