Dave Brubeck in 1954. Photo courtesy: Carl Van Vechten, Photographer, collection at the U.S. Library of Congress.
Ambassador of Cool
While diving in the waves of Hawaii, Dave Brubeck believed he was going to die. The year was 1951 and the jazz musician damaged his spinal cord. That same year, Brubeck started up his jazz quartet. His back injury forced him to play piano in very complex ways - which, as it turns out, led to some of the best jazz music ever produced. Brubeck is best known for performing the instrumental hit song Take Five, along with saxophonist Paul Desmond (who wrote the music) and band members Joe Morello and Gene Wright. The song became the biggest selling jazz single of all time. Brubeck, who was humble and disliked his fame, is credited by many with starting the cool jazz movement (giving him the nickname "Ambassador of cool"). He was popular among the college crowd and made it to the cover of Time magazine in 1954. Dave Brubeck died at age 91 in 2012 (on his way to a doctor's appointment at the time, one day before his 92nd birthday). You can hear Dave Brubeck's cool jazz here on Easy Jazz FM Radio.