Cavalconte: Dave Brubeck Brought ‘Real Stardom’ to Jazz Scene

Dave Brubeck was composer and pianist, but that barely scratches the surface of his illustrious career. Brubeck passed away yesterday in a Norwalk, Connecticut hospital. He was one day shy of turning 92.

Jazz and Brubeck were one and the same. He spanned the entire jazz scene in America after World War II. He formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951. By 1954, Brubeck reached a historic milestone when he was chosen as the first modern jazz musician to grace the cover of Time magazine.

If Time was Brubeck’s “arrival,” his popularity reached its zenith with the seminal album Time Out in 1959. It marked the first jazz LP to crack 1 million in sales.

The album includes Brubeck’s signature piece Take Five, which also became the quartet’s theme.

Paul Cavalconte played Take Five and other Brubeck riffs during his stint at WQCD.

“Take Five” was the most covered original jazz title on CD 101.9,” Cavalconte tells FishbowlNY. “I think we played about five or six versions, counting the original.”

A prized possession/Paul Cavalconte

Beyond spinning the trailblazing Brubeck discs, there was a moment of a lifetime for Cavalconte to cherish.

“I had the honor of hosting a Brubeck show for CD 101.9 and he was as casual and cool in backstage conversation as you would imagine from listening to his music,” Cavalconte recalls.

The station used the moniker “Smooth Jazz,” which the veteran air personality says is a title that doesn’t do the accomplished artist justice.

“Brubeck was hardly ‘Smooth Jazz,’ he was a world class composer and arranger, and one of America’s greatest Ambassadors of music for a truly international audience.”

Cavalconte says Brubeck helped put jazz on the map for the next generation of listeners.

“Brubeck was a very dear man and the combination of his genial personality and great talent brought real stardom to jazz,” Cavalconte tells FishbowlNY.