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Jazz Legends - Dave Brubeck

Updated on December 24, 2012

Jazz Legends - Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck - 1972
Dave Brubeck - 1972
The dave Brubeck Quartet - 1967
The dave Brubeck Quartet - 1967


Jazz Legends - Dave Brubeck


When I was a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison from 1958 to 1962, the two most popular musical groups were The Kingston Trio and The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Since then, I have lost track of The Kingston Trio but I still listen to The Dave Brubeck Quartet.

In 1959, The Dave Brubeck Quartet released an album called "Time Out" where they experimented with different times (9/8, 5/4, 3/4 and 6/4). This was one of the all-time top selling jazz albums.

One piece in particular, "Take Five" (recorded in 5/4 time), which was written by Brubeck’s alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, was its most famous. I have included a video of that recording next along with another favorite of mine from the same album called "Blue Rondo a la Turk" which was recorded in 9/8 time.

Take Five recorded in 1959

Blue rondo a la turk

Time Out - The Dave Brubeck Quartet

Jazz Legends - Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck - 2007
Dave Brubeck - 2007
Dave Brubeck - 2009
Dave Brubeck - 2009
Dave Brubeck at the Kennedy Center
Dave Brubeck at the Kennedy Center


Dave Brubeck was born in Concord, California in 1920 and grew up in Ione. His father was a cattle rancher and his mother taught piano to earn extra money. Although he took piano lessons from his mother, he could not read sheet music and planned to work with his father on their ranch.


He started out studying veterinary medicine at the University of the Pacific but transferred to the music department where he was nearly expelled when one of his professors found out that he couldn’t read music. He was only allowed to graduate after he promised never to teach piano.


He was drafted into the army in 1942 where he served in George Patton’s Third Army. He managed to escape service in the Battle of the Bulge by volunteering to play piano at a Red Cross Show. He was such a hit that he was ordered to form a band. The band was called "The Wolfpack" and it was one of the first racially integrated bands in the military.


In 1944, he met Paul Desmond who played the saxophone and was a major component of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, which is featured in this Hub. In 1949, Coronet records made the first recordings of Brubeck’s octet and later his trio.


In 1951, Dave Brubeck formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond on saxophone and gained popularity by touring college campuses recording a series of albums. In 1954 he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, only the second jazz musician to be so honored.


In 1959, the Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded their famous "Time Out" album. "Time Further Out" was recorded in 1961 and using 3/4, 5/4, 6/4, 9/8 and 7/4 time. I have included two selections from that album next:

"It’s a Raggy Waltz" written in 3/4 time and

"Unsquare Dance" written in 7/4 time.


It's a Raggy Waltz from Time Further Out

Unsguare Dance from Time Further Out


Dave Brubeck disbanded his quartet at the end of 1967, which allowed him more time to compose and to spend time with his family. One of the last albums that he made before that was called "Bravo Brubeck" which was recorded live in Mexico and which featured many traditional Mexican and Spanish songs. I have included two songs from that album which I particularly like:

"Celito Lindo" and

"La Paloma Azul"


Cielito Lindo from Bravo Brubeck

La Paloma Azul from Bravo Brubeck in Mexico


In my opinion, " The Dave Brubeck Quartet" recordings are much like Louis Armstrong’s "Hot Five" and "Hot Seven " recordings. Both artists moved on to record and compose numerous other songs, but when it comes to classic jazz, those were the most productive periods in either of their lives.


I have provided some links to other Brubeck websites in case you want to learn more about the other periods in his life.


Concord, CA where Dave Brubeck was born and Ione, CA where he grew up

Concord, California:
Concord, CA, USA

get directions

Ione, California:
Ione, CA, USA

get directions

San Francisco, California:
San Francisco, CA, USA

get directions


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Dave always sceemard rebellion! from every pore as he does here.Despite having heard it 7 1/2 million times (and possibly being quite OK to not hear it again in this lifetime) still gotta say great tune.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      It's much easier to undnastred when you put it that way!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I enjoy listening to jazz music. Great hub. Thank's

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      5 years ago from California

      Have always loved Dave Brubeck. Didn't know he was from Nor Cal.

      Loved listening to his music on this hub.

    • nextstopjupiter profile image


      5 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      I heard Dave Brubeck in a concert some years ago, it was after his 80th birthday, and it was really great. Thanks for this hub!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you very much for this' I was exposed to Brubeck in 1963 by my mentor Mr. Johnny Land. It was a different time for a different time.

    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      interesting article. Never heard of him but glad to know him now. Voted up


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