I would say there about two moments in my childhood (I guess you could say "my formative years," but it's not as if I could describe what was actually formed in the process) that I can point to a specific moment that changed my tastes in music. "Change" maybe isn't the right phrasing. Perhaps "dramatically expanded into new territory." Whatever, "change" is catchier to say. Anyway. The first would be early on when my dad drove me around blasting Nirvana's "Nevermind" and Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" on cassette over and over again until I learned there was more to life than my mom's affinity for country music (she, too, has since expanded her tastes). It was a long car ride but absolutely worth it. There was some raw emotion... but I don't want to get too poetic here, that isn't the point.

The second moment was Dave Brubeck. I was dating a girl in high school whose father was the sort who could make a suburban apartment something a few steps fancier than you'd expect. Glass tables, red wine, an assortment of decorations more sentimental in nature. For my birthday that year, he bought me two CDs — Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" and The Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Time Out." That first track, "Take Five," the 5/4 rhythm... the extra beat every measure. Complex time signatures is something I knew from artists like Soundgarden and Frank Zappa but somehow never really stopped to think about, and then it became all I thought about. It changed how I listened to music, the instrumentation I could appreciate. An intensity without distortion. Chords with more than three notes. It changed how I played music, personally affected my taste in a huge way.

Dave Brubeck passed away today — just one day shy of his 92nd birthday. He will be missed.

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