Scott Johnson publishes an email from Wilfred McClay noting the oddly cool critical reception Dave Brubeck received:
I thought the Los Angeles Times obituary was pretty good, and remarkably honest about the shameful and shabby way that the critics stubbornly refused to acknowledge his greatness, and never ceased to hold his popularity against him. Not only does the article touch on the racial theme, which I didn’t expect it to do, but it even touches on the fact that his long, happy, and devoted marriage and healthy family life was in some ways held against him—he didn’t live a sufficiently “colorful” life, but was a faithful husband and loving, conscientious father, never was addicted to heroin, etc. The whole thing taught me early on in life that sometimes—not always, but sometimes—the public is a better judge than the critics. The one (unsurprising) omission from the LAT’s obit is any direct account of Brubeck’s religious faith, which was deep and specifically Christian (as I recall, he was an Episcopalian and then became a Catholic), and was behind much of the music he wrote in the last three or four decades of his life. The article mentions the sacred music, but the reader is left in the dark as to why he was writing it.
McClay concludes: “I feel a little bit as if I have lost a friend. But such a legacy! And now he can rest in peace—or, as the case may be, swing in peace.”