WATCH: Dave Brubeck's Greatest Hit Was "Take Five" - Jazz Legend Dead at 91

Dave Brubeck, the U.S. pianist and composer whose quartet produced the first jazz album that sold more than 1 million copies and was best known for the melodic composition "Take Five," has died. He was 91.

He died today of heart failure, the Associated Press reported, citing his manager Russell Gloyd.

Brubeck's experimental recordings and unorthodox time signatures broke new ground in the 1950s, inspiring a generation of musicians and delivering jazz to a wider audience. His cool, West Coast sound defied traditional forms by playing in two keys at once, a harmonic approach that gave jazz a new angle.

The band stayed together for 16 years and was one of the most popular in jazz history, winning a cult following among students through regular performances on university campuses. Brubeck's works such as "The Duke" and "In Your Own Sweet Way" became standards of the genre, while "Time Out" set a precedent for jazz music by selling more than 1 million records after it was released in 1959.

Brubeck performed for Pope John Paul II and for eight U.S. presidents, including Ronald Reagan, whose 1988 summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow included a concert by the jazz maestro. Brubeck also toured at the invitation of the U.S. State Department in a goodwill capacity, even performing behind the Iron Curtain in 1958 at a time of Cold War tension. In 1954, he became the first jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time magazine.

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SOURCE: Bloomberg News
David Henry
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