Born on 6th December, 1920 in Concord, California, to a classical music artist of a mother, Brubeck is the most famous Jazz pianist of his time. He was provided with the training of the piano from a very young age but chose to be a rancher instead. He had two elder brothers as musicians and hoped to follow a different path from his family. But his love for Jazz music stirred up while he was studying in college by the dynamic Harold Meeske. He joined the army in 1942 and served for four years on the field as their band leader. After returning back, he studied music under the tutelage of Darius Millhaud from where he learned polytonality and polyrhythm.
Brubeck professionally began his career in 1947 with the Geary Cellar Jazz Band in a San Francisco club. Although it was not much of a hit, but there he met Paul Desmond, one of the leading influences on his work. He joined the Paul Desmond Trio in 1949 and formed his own trio in the same year until he suffered from a serious neck injury. In 1951 he reformed his band in the form of a quartet with Paul Desmond at the saxophone, Joe Dodge on drums and Bob Bates on brass. This quartet released many albums that took the music industry by storm such as Jazz at Oberlin (1953), Jazz Goes to College (1954) and Time out (1959).
These continuous hits went down well with the Jazz listeners but not with the Jazz critics and they continued to question Brubeck’s time signatures and two toned music. Brubeck still continued on his unique and creative expression through Jazz, landing on the cover of the Times magazine. The article describes Brubeck’s as ‘the most exciting new jazz artist at work today’ and the Quartet's music as ‘some of the strangest and loveliest music ever played since jazz was born.’ The quartet was famously known as The Classic Quartet.
Brubeck with his wife Iola Brubeck worked on an anti-racism show featuring Louis Armstrong shown in Monterey Jazz Festival in 1962. The classic Dave Brubeck Quarter toured the world and held many concerts alongside introducing Take Five; the most popular Jazz single ever.
The Classic Quartet dissolved in 1967 after which Brubeck worked with his sons with Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond as guest artists. With time, Brubeck introduced a spiritual touch to his music including ballets, symphonies, orchestral music, contemporary mass, so on and so forth.
Brubeck has earned numerous awards and honors in his lifetime, the most notable of which is performing four times in the White House. He performed for four different Presidents namely Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan and Clinton. He has won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian Medal and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame among many more.
Brubeck recorded for many labels producing unforgettable singles such as In Your Own Sweet Way, the Duke and Blue Rondo a la Turk. He is known as a classic figure to attract many listeners to Jazz music. Brubeck’s unique Jazz style still serves as a testimony to the greatest Jazz player of all times.