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Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck  Timeline
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Biography
Youngest of three musical brothers, Dave Brubeck was born in Concord, California, on December 6, 1920. His father was a cattle rancher and his mother a pianist and music teacher. When he was twelve, the family moved from Concord to the foothills of the Sierras, where Brubeck's father managed a 45,000 acre cattle ranch. Young Dave wanted to follow in this father's footsteps and be a rancher. At the same time the lure of music, and especially Jazz, drew him to the piano and local dance bands where he was playing professionally by his early teens. He entered the College of the Pacific, Stockton, California, as a pre-med student with the idea of becoming a veterinarian and returning to the ranch. Working his way through school as a Jazz pianist in local clubs, he decided to forsake the cattle business and changed his college major to music. In 1942 he entered the Army where he served under Patton in the European Theater.

Upon his discharge in 1946, Dave studied composition with Darius Milhaud, the famous French composer, who was teaching at Mills College, Oakland, California. Milhaud encouraged Brubeck to pursue a career both in Jazz and in composition. Brubeck and other Milhaud students began to compose and perform in an Octet, which recorded and received critical attention as an innovative force in Jazz. Among the musicians in that early Octet were Cal Tjader and Paul Desmond, who later became members of the Dave Brubeck Trio and Quartet, and clarinetist Bill Smith, who still appears frequently with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

Dave Brubeck and his Trio with Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty cut their first records in San Francisco in 1949 and won Best Small Combo awards in both the Critics and the Reader's Polls in 'DownBeat' Magazine. When the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond on alto saxophone was formed in 1951, the distinctive harmonic approach employed by Brubeck and Desmond, and their daring improvised contrapuntal choruses caused a stir in the Jazz world, launching what later became known as "West Coast" or "cool" Jazz. The Quartet's recordings and concert appearances on college campuses introduced this new sound to thousands of students.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet played in Jazz clubs and toured with "package shows" featuring such artists as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, and Gerry Mulligan. They won the first Jazz poll conducted by 'The Pittsburgh Courier,' a Black newspaper, and repeatedly won top honors in the 'DownBeat' Reader's polls. By 1954 Brubeck's popularity was such that his picture appeared on the cover of 'Time Magazine' and his recordings were being played throughout the world. In 1958 the State Department sent the Quartet on a 3-month tour of countries behind the Iron Curtain and the Middle East. This led to compositions and recordings influenced by world music.

Always expanding Jazz horizons, Dave Brubeck and his Quartet has performed and recorded with legendary Jazz figures Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Rushing and Carmen McRae. Yet another milestone in his career was his appearance in 1959 with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, performing and recording 'Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra,' composed by Dave's brother, Howard.

An early experimenter in combining Jazz with symphony orchestras, Brubeck continues to appear as composer-performer in concerts of his choral and symphonic compositions. He celebrated his 70th, 75th and 80th birthdays with the London Symphony Orchestra performing an all-Brubeck program which featured him along with four of his sons as soloists.

Brubeck pioneered the presentation of two indigenous American art forms - Jazz and modern dance - in a unique collaboration with the Murray Louis Dance Company. They toured throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan. Earlier in his career he had composed "Points on Jazz" for the American Ballet Theatre.

World tours, including several for the U.S. State Department, have made Jazzman Dave Brubeck one of America's foremost goodwill ambassadors. He entertained world leaders at the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in Moscow in 1988. He has performed before eight U.S. Presidents, princes, kings, heads of state, and Pope John Paul ll for whom he also composed and performed a commissioned work for the Pope's visit to San Francisco in 1987.

Over his long career, Dave Brubeck has received many honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction into the Pantheon of the Arts at University of the Pacific, numerous awards from trade magazines, 'Playboy' Magazine Hall of Fame, 'DownBeat' Hall of Fame, the Jazz Institute Hall of Fame at Rutgers University, the American Eagle Award from the National Music Council, the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award from Fairfield University, the Connecticut Arts Award, Helwig Distinguished Artist Award, and honorary doctorates from six American universities and one from University of Duisburg in Germany. He has been cited by the French government for his contribution to the arts. In 1996 he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame.

Dave Brubeck, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, is a legendary figure in contemporary Jazz. In 1999 he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. There has also been growing recognition of Dave Brubeck as composer of orchestral works, oratorios, cantatas, ballets and chamber music.


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