1. ITV Report

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck dies at the age of 91

Dave Brubeck's classical pianist mother was initially disappointed by his interest in jazz. Photo: Kimberly White / Reuters

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck, whose pioneering piano playing in pieces such as Take Five earned him global acclaim, has died at the age of 91 of heart failure.

The Californian composer and pianist, who was celebrated for his exotic and challenging rhythms, had a career that spanned almost all American jazz since the Second World War.

Hollywood star Clint Eastwood met one of his piano heroes, and his wife Iola, in 2007. Credit: Staff Photographer / Reuters

Having served during the conflict as a musician under Gen. George S. Patton in Europe, his Dave Brubeck Quartet, formed in 1951, helped define the swinging, smoky rhythms of 1950s and '60s club jazz.

Their seminal 1959 album Time Out, featuring recognised classics like Blue Rondo a la Turk and signature theme Take Five, became the first ever million-selling jazz LP, and remains among the best-selling jazz albums of all time.

In later years Brubeck composed music for operas and ballet and in 1988 played for Mikhail Gorbachev at a dinner in Moscow that then-President Ronald Reagan hosted for the Soviet leader.

After seeing the general secretary tapping his foot, Brubeck said:

I can't understand Russian, but I can understand body language.

Brubeck added to a lifetime of awards with a Kennedy Centre Honour from US President Obama at a White House ceremony in late 2009.

Dave Brubeck (second left) was honoured along with Robert De Niro and Bruce Springsteen in 2009. Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Brubeck said the announcement would have delighted his late mother, Elizabeth Ivey Brubeck, a classical pianist who was initially disappointed by her youngest son's interest in jazz.

He explained that she had lived long enough to finally appreciate his music, only adding to his millions of fans around the world.

Bruce Springsteen, accompanied by comedian Mel Brooks, was delighted to meet the Boss of American jazz. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Brubeck died this morning of heart failure in Connecticut, a day shy of his 92nd birthday.

His manager Russell Gloyd said he had been taken ill while on his way to a cardiology appointment with his son.