The pioneering jazz pianist, famous for Take Five, made classical music swing.

(December 6, 1920 — December 5, 2012)

Pioneering American jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck has passed away. The jazz legend, who had a hit with Take Five, died from heart failure on December 5, just one day shy of his 92nd birthday.

Born in Concord, California, Brubeck had his first introduction to classical music with his piano teacher mother, and went on to study at Mills College with French composer Darius Milhaud. Brubeck became one of the leading exponents of progressive jazz, achieving the first million-selling jazz album in 1959 with the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out. Still counted among one of the essential, best-loved jazz records ever released, the LP opens with Blue Rondo à la Turk, a play on Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca. The track was revolutionary in jazz for its 9/8 flowing rhythm (nine beats to the measure instead of the usual two, three or four in most standards).

The album also features Take Five(in 5/4 time), which became the Quartet’s signature theme. Composed by Brubeck’s saxophonist partner Paul Desmond, Take Fivemade the Billboard singles chart in 1961. The breakout release, full of...