The album also features “Take Five,” the cool and catchy odd-metered tune that became the Brubeck quartet’s signature. The tune was derived from a pattern that Morello liked to play backstage. Brubeck asked Desmond to write a two-part melody over the rhythm, and Brubeck patched the pieces together.
“It was a song that people could relate to, and it influenced the future of the music,” said George Wein, a jazz pianist and founder of the Newport Jazz Festival.
Brubeck always felt that his successful jazz career led fans to overlook the second career he launched as a jazz-inspired classical orchestral and choral composer in 1967 after disbanding his classic quartet.
Brubeck’s experience in World War II led him to look beyond jazz to compose oratorios, cantatas and other extended works touching on themes involving the church, civil rights and peace.
“I knew I wanted to write on religious themes when I was a GI in World War II,” Brubeck said, recalling how he was trapped behind German lines in the Battle of the Bulge and nearly killed. “I saw and experienced so much violence that I thought I could express my outrage best with music.”
Brubeck’s interest in classical music was inspired by his mother, Elizabeth Ivey Brubeck, a classical pianist, who was initially disappointed by her youngest son’s interest in jazz. She later came to appreciate his music.
Born in Concord, Calif., on Dec. 6. 1920, Brubeck began piano lessons with his mother at age four, but those ended when he was 12 and his father moved the family to a cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierras. As a teenager, he played in local dance bands on weekends.
When he enrolled at the College of the Pacific in 1938, Brubeck had intended to major in veterinary medicine and return to ranching. But while working his way through college by playing piano in local nightclubs, he became smitten with jazz and changed his major to music. In 1942, he married Iola Whitlock, a fellow student who became his lifelong partner, librettist, and sometime manager.