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Dave Brubeck

Dave Warren Brubeck

Pianist, Composer, Bandleader

(1920 - 2012)

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Dave Brubeck was the first jazz musician to grace the cover of Time magazine since the weekly featured Louis Armstrong in 1949. Time heralded Brubeck’s music as the beginning of a new jazz era in 1954. Born and educated in California, Brubeck, who wanted to be a rancher but quickly succumbed to his interest in piano, graduated from College of the Pacific before serving in the Army where his musical skills flourished. With a GI Bill he attended Mills College to study with classical composer Darius Milhaud, a proponent of polyrhythms and polytonality, who fired Brubeck’s imagination. While at Mills Brubeck formed an experimental octet that occasionally included alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, but it wasn’t until 1951 that Brubeck expanded his trio with drummer Joe Dodge and bassist Bob Bates to include the brilliant saxist,.

Brubeck found his audiences on college campuses where the quartet recorded their first successful album in 1953, Jazz at Oberlin. In 1956 drummer Joe Morello replaced Dodge and soon Gene Wright took over from Bates. The “classic” quartet was in place, and in 1959 they recorded the phenomenally successful Time Out album in which they experimented with time signatures. Desmond’s composition written in 5/4 time, “Take Five,” was the first jazz instrumental to sell a million copies as a single and became the group’s signature tune. Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” written in 9/8 time and derived from Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca,” was another highlight of the album. Other Brubeck compositions which have entered the jazz repertoire include “In Your Own Sweet Way,” “The Duke,” and “Strange Meadowlark.”

Despite the overwhelming success of the quartet, which toured extensively abroad and introduced jazz worldwide, the restless Brubeck continued to expand his musical horizons. After he disbanded the quartet in 1967 he wrote ballets, oratorios, symphonies, a contemporary mass, and other sacred works. After Desmond’s death Brubeck formed a second quartet in the ‘80s that included his friend and a member of the octet at Mills, the brilliant clarinetist William O. “Bill” Smith. Brubeck also performed in various contexts with his musician sons: pianist/keyboardist Darius, bassist/trombonist Chris, drummer Dan, and cellist Matthew.

Brubeck has been honored in ways too numerous to mention, but perhaps dearest to his heart is the Brubeck Institute, established by the University of the Pacific in 2000 to honor graduates Dave and his wife Iola. The programs are both musically and socially oriented. It must be remembered that racially mixed groups were not the norm in the 1950s, and if a club would not accept Brubeck’s African American bassist or if a college campus refused to integrate the audience, Brubeck cancelled the gig. Throughout his life he has used music to reach out and to unite, and his legacy will continue for generations.

- Sandra Burlingame

Time Out

Dave Brubeck Quartet

At Carnegie Hall

Dave Brubeck Quartet

Jazz Impressions of Japan

Dave Brubeck Quartet

Two Generations of Brubeck

Dave Brubeck

Their Last Time Out

The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Paul Desmond

A Dave Brubeck Christmas

Dave Brubeck

The Essential Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck
Reading and Viewing

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Doug Ramsey

Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond

Parkside Publications, Inc.

Ilse Storb, Klaus Fischer

Dave Brubeck: Improvisations and Compositions : The Idea of Cultural Exchange : With Discography

Peter Lang Publishing

Dave Brubeck

Selections from a Dave Brubeck Christmas

Alfred Publishing

The Genius of Dave Brubeck, Book 1: Piano Solos

Warner Bros Pubns

Fred Hall

It's About Time: The Dave Brubeck Story

University of Arkansas Press

The Dave Brubeck Anthology: Intermediate/Advanced Piano Solos

Warner Bros. Publications

Simply Brubeck - The Music Of Dave Brubeck - 26 Of His Top Jazz Classics (Simply)

Alfred Publishing


DownBeat - The Great Jazz Interviews (A 75th Anniversary Anthology) (Book)

Hal Leonard


Down Beat: Sixty Years of Jazz

Hal Leonard Corporation

Dave Brubeck

Rediscovering Dave Brubeck

Image Entertainment


Dave Brubeck

Jazz Icons: Dave Brubeck Live in '64 & '66

Jazz Icons


Dave Brubeck

Brubeck Returns to Moscow



Joe Williams, Dave Brubeck, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk, Joshua Redman

Monterey Jazz Festival: 40 Legendary Years

Warner Home Video


Ralph J. Gleason

Jazz Casual - John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck



Modern Jazz Quartet, Dave Brubeck, Thad Jones

20th Century Jazz Masters



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