Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck plays at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1981, the same year he played for Susan Stamberg on her family's upright piano.
Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck plays at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1981, the same year he played for Susan Stamberg on her family's upright piano. Paul Mello/AP
Dave Brubeck died this week, a day short of his 92nd birthday. The pianist and composer was jazz for millions around the world, building blocks of chords that mixed classical influences with contemporary harmonies and opposing rhythms.
Dave Brubeck and saxophonist Paul Desmond created fresh sounds in the 1950s, with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Their 1959 collaboration, Take Five, may be the best-known jazz composition of all time.
NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg grew up with the sounds of Dave Brubeck, and has a Brubeck memory that's dear to her.
It was February 1981, and Stamberg was hosting All Things Considered. She'd heard the great musician would be in town. "I wanted to hear him play," she tells Weekend Edition Saturday's Scott Simon, "but this was before National Public Radio had a piano." So she asked Brubeck if he'd come to her house.
"And by gum, he agreed!" she says. There, at the Stamberg family upright piano, Dave Brubeck played for her microphone. "I have to tell you, I didn't dust those keys for months!"