Born in 1920 in California, lessons at age four. His older brothers were also gifted, becoming professional jazz musicians themselves too. had in his DNA. His mother was an accomplished classical and got him started with
Despite this classical background, the young was reluctant to learn to read , relying on a keen ear that enabled him to pick up melodies and chord progressions with ease.
Fast forward several years and the teenaged was performing with local bands to make extra money to support his ultimate goal of going to veterinary college.
Lucky for millions of fans around the world, his university professors – taken with his his enthusiasm and musical – successfully encouraged him to change majors!
Stay tuned for our pick of some of the best Dave Brubeck albums from his extensive catalogue of cool!
The early part of the 1940s had been spent in the army where the young was enlisted to entertain the troops. He formed an ensemble called ‘The Wolf Pack’, a trendsetting band consisting of both white and during a time when the military was largely segregated.
Whilst not released until 1956, this compilation is made up of some of the earliest recordings, taken between 1946-50.
This period marked the end of his time in the army and a chance to study at Mills College in California under famed French Darius Milhaud.
It was there that the Octet was formed, but the was too avant-garde for most listeners at the time.
Whilst by no means his most famous lineup, the early treatment of standards such as The Way You Look Tonight and What Is This Thing Called Love? are fascinating listens.
Jazz at Oberlin (Fantasy Records, 1953)
The saxophone player’s laid-back approach to improvisation mirrored ‘s and they were natural partners for much of their careers.
There may be only five songs, but these extended cuts allow the members to swing and improvise at leisure.
The favourite The Way You Look Tonight makes another reappearance and is well worth digging out!
These records showcased a sound, but also inspiring a generation of students on campuses across America. who was not only pioneering the
This popularisation of earned the honour of being the second to appear on the cover of Time magazine in 1954.
Time Out (Columbia Records, 1959)
A list of the best albums wouldn’t be complete without this seminal recording which makes most of the ‘best out there. albums of all time’ lists
The seeds of this actually started a decade before.
‘s teacher Darius Milhaud in the late 1940s had a deep interest in and compositions with ‘off meters’ (unusual time signatures) and it seems this rubbed off on his young prodigy.
The iconic hit from this unusual (hence the title), it also made its way into the standard of 5/4 time repertoire. – ‘Take Five’ – not only features the
Whilst didn’t write this track (Paul Desmond gets the credit for that) he contributed the rest of the pieces, which include those in 9/8 and 6/4 time – highly unusual in back then!
Until the , the section had been something of a revolving door; this sees the classic group finally in the studio, with and locking down the positions.
Regardless of its novel sound, the was – and still is – hugely popular, becoming the first to sell over a million copies.
& Rushing (Columbia Records, 1960)
This 1960 is a fascinating concept: matching the measured cool of ‘s classic quarter with blues singer Jimmy Rushing.
The group meet somewhere in the middle, exploring a the cooler side of the blues whilst exhibiting contagious energy.
Hailed by AllMusic’s Scott Yanow as “a surprising success” the 11 tracks give a fresh lease of life to songs by the likes of Irving Berlin, Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing himself.
At Carnegie Hall (Columbia, 1963)
There’s nothing like a live to capture the nuances and diversity musicians bring when performing in person.
And, as ‘s star continued to rise, what better place to do it than New York’s Carnegie Hall!
This double is masterfully recorded and features at its peak of their powers, capturing rich, extended solos on their most popular repertoire.
The was not all plain sailing though; a newspaper strike in the build up to the event caused some concern about low attendance.
Fears were unfounded though and the city’s group at work and add to the excitement of this recording. fans turned out in force to see this legendary
Live at the Berlin Philharmonic (Legacy Records, 1970)
In a relatively short space of time, had gained commercial success and became an international star.
But whilst he recorded almost exclusively with his of Desmond/Wright/Morello for more than 10 years, he finally dissolved it in 1967 to work on different projects.
This double disk icon Gerry Mulligan on baritone saxophone for an extended set live in Berlin alongside drummer Alan Dawson and bassist Jack Six. – recorded live in Germany – is one example of this, with the bringing in fellow
Together, they provide the solid foundations for baritone sax legend Gerry Mulligan. to interact with
The ecstatic audience reaction really adds to the atmosphere of this one!
The died of heart failure in 2012, a day before his 92nd birthday, however, ‘s legacy continues to live on to this day.
Over the years, had vested himself into a myriad of groups and various styles of composition.
He received two citations from two Presidents, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian, and countless other honours.
These albums are merely a snapshot of the ‘s musical genius and are hopefully a great springboard for you to dive deeper into his brilliance as a and improviser…
The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!