Perhaps some Americans feel like traditional jazz purists felt after they first heard Brubeck's exotic rhythms on his groundbreaking 1959 "Time Out" album: My world is changing, and I don't know these tunes.
David Simon, the creator of the HBO series, "The Wire," captured some of that angst in an essay he wrote right after the election entitled "Barack Obama and The Death of Normal."
"America will soon belong to the men and women -- white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight -- who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions."
"We are all the 'other' now," he wrote.
Brubeck entered that world over half-a-century ago.
He was a white man in a world dominated by black artists, but he wasn't threatened by the differences. He respected tradition but he wasn't afraid to subvert it if it meant growth. He learned how to listen to, and be inspired by the music of "the other."
Brubeck was often called the "Ambassador of the Cool," but he was more.
He was the ambassador for a new America.