Brian Baer / Bee file, 2008

The year 2012 witnessed the passing of many influential authors, actors, musicians, directors, dancers and others who contributed greatly to our region's vibrant arts scene. They challenged and changed us with their words, melodies, movements and visions. But mostly, they entertained and inspired. Some were born here, others arrived later in life, but each left a legacy. Here, Bee critics and reporters remember a few whose work affected them both professionally and personally.

Dave Brubeck, the legendary jazz pianist, composer and bandleader perhaps known best for his seminal piece "Take Five," died Dec. 5 from heart failure. He was 91.

Read the obituary here.

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Dave Brubeck leaves musical legacy in California's Central Valley

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 10A
Last Modified: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 - 4:42 pm

In the world of jazz, the Central Valley has few native sons like Dave Brubeck.

Brubeck passed away Wednesday of heart failure in Norwalk, Conn., a day shy of his 92nd birthday.

Few works of music, jazz or otherwise, are as recognizable as the opening piano line of "Take Five," a work recorded and arranged by Brubeck in 1959, and composed by collaborator Paul Desmond.

His work with the quartet that bears his name was known as quintessential California jazz, but his legacy extends far past music.

The city of Stockton owes a debt to Brubeck in form of the Brubeck Institute, which the musician help create at his alma mater, the University of the Pacific, in 2001.

Born in Concord and raised near Ione, Brubeck graduated from UoP in 1942, and later served in the Army during World War II.

His formative days as a jazz musician are linked to the smoky jazz clubs that dotted the Bay Area in the late 1940s and early '50s. He formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet, which included Desmond, in 1951. Eight years later came the legendary "Take Five."

"His was a career that functioned on many levels," said Simon Rowe, director of the Brubeck Institute. "He was an artist that used the keen sense of the art form not only to create high art but to make it populist."

Brubeck put the city of Stockton on the jazz map after he donated his papers and other memorabilia to UoP as the Brubeck Collection.

"These were gifted to the university as the foundational piece to create an institute," Rowe said. "Around that was created a festival which created education programs."

The institute offers a three-year, full-scholarship program in jazz performance for five musicians and a one-week summer jazz program and other outreach activities.

"The basic mantra is that the institute works to impact society as a catalyst for social change – through the arts," said Rowe.

Brubeck's influence was a constant presence locally, and included many projects with the Stockton Symphony.

"He was an accessible and totally humble man," said Peter Jaffe, artistic director of the Stockton Symphony.

Jaffe recalls encountering Brubeck's music genius when he perused Brubeck's student scores. It was then, in 2001, that Jaffe realized Brubeck was already composing with the same sophistication as some of Igor Stravinsky's compositions.

Jaffe soon tapped Brubeck with the idea of writing a piece for the Stockton Symphony. The result was Brubeck's "Millennium. Intervals," which premiered with the Stockton Symphony in 2001.

A four-day Brubeck Festival followed in 2003, and the relationship culminated in the work "Ansel Adams-America," which Brubeck wrote with his son, Chris Brubeck, and was performed by the Stockton Symphony and the Sacramento Philharmonic in 2009.

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