Dave Brubeck

A Life in Time


By Philip Clark

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The definitive, investigative biography of jazz legend Dave Brubeck (“Take Five”)

In 2003, music journalist Philip Clark was granted unparalleled access to jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Over the course of ten days, he shadowed the Dave Brubeck Quartet during their extended British tour, recording an epic interview with the bandleader. Brubeck opened up as never before, disclosing his unique approach to jazz; the heady days of his “classic” quartet in the 1950s-60s; hanging out with Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis; and the many controversies that had dogged his 66-year-long career.

Alongside beloved figures like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, Brubeck’s music has achieved name recognition beyond jazz. But finding a convincing fit for Brubeck’s legacy, one that reconciles his mass popularity with his advanced musical technique, has proved largely elusive. In Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, Clark provides us with a thoughtful, thorough, and long-overdue biography of an extraordinary man whose influence continues to inform and inspire musicians today.

Structured around Clark’s extended interview and intensive new research, this book tells one of the last untold stories of jazz, unearthing the secret history of “Take Five” and many hitherto unknown aspects of Brubeck’s early career – and about his creative relationship with his star saxophonist Paul Desmond. Woven throughout are cameo appearances from a host of unlikely figures from Sting, Ray Manzarek of The Doors, and Keith Emerson, to John Cage, Leonard Bernstein, Harry Partch, and Edgard Varèse. Each chapter explores a different theme or aspect of Brubeck’s life and music, illuminating the core of his artistry and genius. To quote President Obama, as he awarded the musician with a Kennedy Center Honor: “You can’t understand America without understanding jazz, and you can’t understand jazz without understanding Dave Brubeck.”


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Classical, jazz, rock, country, blues, rhythm and blues, bluegrass, avant-garde, hip-hop, contemporary classical, modern classical, modern jazz, free jazz, fusion, electric jazz, freeform country, world music, island music, standards, film music, alternative rock, indie rock, folk rock, grunge, punk rock, psychedelic rock, post-rock, garage rock, math rock, progressive rock, pop, electropop, electro swing, Europop, Britpop, power pop, Latin jazz, bebop, EDM, trap, dubstep, house, lo-fi, alternative R&B, rap, mumble rap, soul, funk, folk, reggae, metal, heavy metal.

On and on (and on), as the years advance, the music changes, cultures change, all things change while we continually attempt to describe the music and art we make. We need to talk about it. It’s an essential part of life—a basic and native sense to be artistic, create something beautiful, have art in our lives.

We try to explain to others what music is; encourage them to understand. As musicians and artists, we want them to get it—to participate. We inherently know that tuning up to the wavelength of art and creativity will bring benefits, will make life more enjoyable, lift the spirits.

The talk and discussion about music and art comes in all forms—but basically two: friendly with a high interest and critical. Mostly, the artists and public converse with friendly high interest—whereas you’ll find the critical approach in the media and in schools and universities.

Personally, I have found the only way to understand and appreciate music and art is to touch the artists making it. To listen, to look, to experience, and, best of all, to do.

Dave and Iola were an amazing couple. My sweet wife, Gayle, and I had the pleasure of visiting them in their Connecticut home one time. They had an ideal relationship as man and wife and as artistic collaborators. Very similar to Gayle’s and my life together. They were a big inspiration to us.

As the years and decades rolled on, my appreciation for Dave and for his compositions, bands, and piano playing increased as I listened and experienced his dedication and commitment to creating his music. In the 1970s, when the term “fusion” was invented to negatively describe Return to Forever, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Weather Report, I realized that Dave’s music was an early breakthrough well before the 70s. That combination of composed and improvised music forms was well under way in his creative hands. The musicians and artists were combining more influences from other parts of the world and other cultures. The artists were sharing their ideas more quickly. Dave was a pioneer and an innovator.

My memory of playing “Strange Meadowlark” at Dave’s memorial, with Iola in the front row with the whole Brubeck family, is a beautiful spiritual moment I won’t ever forget for the love that we shared in that great cathedral for Dave.

Words are simply inadequate to describe music and art—or Dave Brubeck—unless you are a poet.

I and the music world are forever thankful for Dave’s reverence for creativity and irreverence for categories.


November, 2019


Once I had my title, not writing became more of a problem than sitting down to begin.

A Life in Time was a title that encapsulated the classic biographical model of “the life and times,” but it also opened up the terrain. The project was not to write a book that marched through Dave Brubeck’s life chronologically—casually observing, perhaps as an aside, that shortly after his quartet recorded “Take Five” in 1959, Vice President Richard Nixon flew on a trade mission to Moscow and Billie Holiday died. The plan instead was to thread his life back through the times that formed it. Brubeck saw active service as a solider during the Second World War; he led a commercially successful, racially mixed jazz group during some of the ugliest days of American segregation; and in the late 1960s and early 1970s he created a series of large-scale compositions that reflected variously on issues of race, religion, and the messy politics of an uncertain era. Threading his life back through these times was both a musical and a social concern—I wanted to shine a light on how Brubeck, thoughtful and sensitive as he was, had been changed as a musician and as a man by the troubled times through which he lived and during which he produced such optimistic, life-enhancing art.

As a biographer in search of a title, I was handed a gift by Brubeck, even if it took me a while to realize it. He was a man obsessed with time. From the moment he founded the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 to only eighteen months before his death at the end of 2012, Brubeck spent much of his life touring the world, which adds up to sixty years of playing concerts in every continent of the world, including some countries that today would be too dangerous to contemplate visiting.

He was also a man impatient with time. Finding time to play jazz, time to compose, and time to devote to his wife Iola and their six children were all important to Brubeck, and with only so many hours in the day, one solution was to overlap those activities. Compositions originally written for his extended sacred pieces were adapted for his jazz groups; and, if you want to spend more time with your teenage children, one sure way to know where they are every night is to play jazz with them. Beginning in 1973, Brubeck toured with three of his sons—Darius, Chris, and Dan—as Two Generations of Brubeck and the New Brubeck Quartet, his initial reluctance to embrace their newfangled cultural reference points—which included rock, funk, and soul music—quickly forgotten.

But that word, time, also had another meaning altogether. Whenever I interviewed Brubeck, it never took long for two key terms to emerge: polytonality and polyrhythm. Polytonality—music sounding in two or more keys simultaneously—and polyrhythm—overlays of different rhythmic pulses and grooves—were, like the attitude he took toward life, techniques that allowed obsessions and tics to coexist. Brubeck plied his music with overlaps: between musical cultures in “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” which combined an indigenous Turkish rhythm with the blues, and in “Three to Get Ready,” which squared the circle of a waltz by inserting bars of 4/4; between different time signatures, like his version of “Someday My Prince Will Come,” which managed to be in 4/4 and 3/4 at the same time; between the radically diverse range of musical styles through which he waded in his improvised solos—no sweat as Liszt flowed into James P. Johnson.

And time also meant time signatures. “Take Five” in 5/4 time, “Blue Rondo à la Turk” in an asymmetrically arranged 9/8, “Unsquare Dance” in 7/4—before Brubeck, no jazz musician had worked so consistently, or so successfully, with extending metric possibilities. For all their bold innovations and harmonic daring, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk, the occasional waltz aside, kept to 4/4 time, but Brubeck’s experiments with time signatures became his calling card. In the US, May 4—5/4—has become an unofficial Dave Brubeck Day and Twitter meme; and Tchaikovsky might have composed a famous waltz in 5/4 time in his Pathétique Symphony, but Brubeck came to own the idea of 5/4 time in the way that Van Gogh owned the sunflower and Philip Glass the arpeggio—which meant he owned nothing at all. Anyone can paint a sunflower or play music in any time signature they like; but Brubeck’s 5/4 time stuck in the public imagination, to the point that he and it became inseparable.

Even before he had recorded a note of music in 5/4 or 7/4, Columbia Records bosses sniffed something in the air and decided to call his first studio album for the company Brubeck Time; and after the soar-away triumph of Time Out, Brubeck followed up with Time Further Out, Time Changes, Countdown—Time in Outer Space, and Time In. His gift to any prospective biographer, especially one searching for a title, was that word, time, which needed to feature as part of my title—but in a more meaningful way than a mere wisecracking play on words. Reconciling all those connotations of time, from the broadly historical to the directly musical, became my way forward. A structure pieced itself together as I took time to think through all these various meanings of time.

“Go back to the music if in doubt” became my mantra as I wrote, and the structural inner workings of Brubeck’s music led the way from the get-go. The story within a story of the blues and Turkish music in “Blue Rondo à la Turk” and of 3/4 versus 4/4 in “Three to Get Ready,” and Brubeck’s knack for nesting one time signature inside another, freed up time: no need to slavishly adhere to the chronology. I was interested in investigating how one aspect of his life illuminated another against the panorama of American history; and if you’re wondering why the first chapter begins in 2003 and then flips back to 1953—when the Dave Brubeck Quartet was touring in a package with Charlie Parker—that is why. Opening the book by explaining where Brubeck’s music stood in relation to Parker’s—who was then considered to be the very embodiment of modern jazz—journey straight to the heart of the music.

And another reason to cut direct to the chase, leaving Brubeck’s birth until later, was that I didn’t want to wait for the chronological narrative to catch up with my own role as an embedded reporter. In 2003, I shadowed the Dave Brubeck Quartet (then featuring Bobby Militello, Michael Moore, and Randy Jones) during a ten-day tour of the UK. I couldn’t make every gig, but as the quartet traveled between their rented apartment in Maida Vale, West London, and Brighton, Southend, Manchester, and Birmingham, I had the privilege of sitting next to Dave on the bus and we talked and talked, sometimes late into the night; I also spent time with Brubeck and his wife Iola in their Maida Vale flat. Ostensibly this extended interview was for a feature commissioned by the British jazz magazine Jazz Review—published as “Adventures in the Sound of Modernist Swing” in July 2003—but Dave gave me hours’ worth of material, many more words and memories than could be stuffed into a 3,500-word article. I always worried that my original article, rushed out in a couple of days to satisfy press deadlines, was not the finessed, definitive piece I’d hoped for. The origins of this book go back to the realization that I owed it to myself and, more importantly, to Brubeck to write something more permanent and fitting.

Most of the interview material was collected on the road in 2003, but this book also draws on face-to-face interviews recorded after that date, and occasional e-mail supplements routed through Iola’s AOL account. Brubeck was, typically, very generous with his time and willing to talk, but at the age of eighty-two, his memory was fallible, especially regarding dates and names. Some things he reported as fact were directly contradicted by my subsequent research, and all such occasions are highlighted in the text. Brubeck also had a tendency—like many musicians I’ve interviewed—to repeat a settled account of a story that, as he told it yet again, wandered further and further from reality. I learned quickly to nudge him in another direction when I’d heard the answers before. Sometimes he held back information to protect former associates and sidemen who were still living in 2003—in one such case, I was only able to piece together the full story of why his bass player and drummer both quit suddenly at the end of 1953 by reading through his later correspondence. But almost everything he told me about the making of Time Out was undermined by one troubling inconsistency that, with access to other sources and the rehearsal tapes, I have done my best to iron out.

One sure way I found to keep Brubeck’s interest engaged was to pose questions about less-often-discussed areas of his career, and that strategy threw up some remarkable details about his friendship with Charlie Parker. Brubeck was born in California in 1920; I was born in the north of England in 1972, and that Brubeck had so much to tell me about a time and place so far outside of my own experience became intoxicating. As he talked in 2003 about segregation in the mid-1960s—and especially about how the quartet defied the Ku Klux Klan during a now-notorious concert in Alabama in 1964—the thought that such an event had taken place only eight years before I was born haunted me. As I wrote all these years later, that Brubeck’s accounts of his country’s gravest shame should have such damning relevance to Trump’s America felt unbearably poignant and tragic—time overlaps, but it is also cyclic.

The origins of this book are traceable to 2003, but the origins of my relationship with Brubeck’s music stretch back much further. At Newcastle City Hall, in the early 1960s, had Brubeck turned around to look at the seats that were arranged onstage to accommodate a capacity crowd, he might have looked directly into the eyes of his future biographer’s father. Later my father, who is a painter, worked on his canvases every night with Time Out on his turntable. I can remember, at the age of six or seven, keeping myself awake to hear “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” the sound of which enthralled me; family mythology insists that I would run into his studio cheering whenever it was played. In the summer of 1986, during a family holiday to Spain, I found a cassette of Brubeck’s 1973 album We’re All Together Again for the First Time in a record shop in Figueres following a visit to the Dalí Theatre-Museum. As we drove out of the city in the scorching Mediterranean sun, with the tape pumping through the rental car, threatening to blow the doors off, my mother shifted uncomfortably in the backseat next to my younger sister as the opening track, “Truth,” unfolded. This was Brubeck at his wildest, vaulting free-form clusters around the keyboard before entering into a gladiatorial dialogue with drummer Alan Dawson. Once again, I was captivated.

Everything I have achieved in my life as a musician and as a writer began with those two experiences. “Blue Rondo à la Turk” led me to more Brubeck, then to Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane (and back in history to Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton). And after I played it for my music teacher, John Hastie, “Truth” spun me in a whole other direction. If you like this, he suggested, you might well appreciate Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. A trip to the local library unearthed a long-unborrowed boxed set in which the Bartók piece was paired with music by Karlheinz Stockhausen. I was immediately hooked, and I returned a few days later to borrow LPs of music by Pierre Boulez, Charles Ives, and Krzysztof Penderecki.

I met Brubeck for the first time in October 1992, when I was a music student and, following a quartet concert in Manchester, he graciously agreed to look through a piano composition I’d written called Thelonious Dreaming. Iola took me backstage and Dave played some of my harmonies through on the piano, and then he suggested we ought to keep in touch. The next time I had some music ready, I sent it to his address in Wilton, Connecticut, and was amazed when, only a week later, a reply arrived. When I was looking for employment in 1998, I pitched an interview with Brubeck to the editor of the now-defunct Classic CD magazine; the Brubeck Quartet was touring the UK, and to this day, I remain convinced that the editor muddled my name with some proper journalist who knew what they were doing. But no matter. The article, my first paid piece of journalism, was duly published in the February 1999 issue, and from that point every magazine and newspaper I’ve written for—Jazz Review, the Wire, Gramophone, Classic FM, International Piano, Choir and Organ, Jazzwise, The Guardian, and the Financial Times—seemingly had cause to commission a Brubeck article. Not writing a Brubeck book was becoming a big problem for me, and after writing the program booklet for Brubeck’s eighty-fifth birthday concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in 2005, I intimated to Dave, in the greenroom, that I ought to write a book. “Well… we’ll talk.” He smiled. Two or three attempts to write a Brubeck biography then went nowhere, and it was only after the title A Life in Time popped into my head—in a supermarket in East Finchley, North London—that everything fell into place.

A long personal digression, I know, but one that I hope helps explain the book that A Life in Time has ultimately become. Having gone to so much effort to place Brubeck’s life within his time, lifting him out of his time became important as I was nearing the end of the book. There was nothing to be gained by abandoning Brubeck in the 1950s and ’60s. Too many critical perspectives on Brubeck’s work, I felt, lacked credibility and were ill informed because they tapered off post-1967, when the classic quartet, featuring alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, disbanded. Another critical cliché—the crazy number of records Brubeck sold was directly out of proportion to his influence—also struck me as suspect. True enough, the lineage of influence that led from Art Tatum to Matthew Shipp, via Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor—or from Miles Davis to Wadada Leo Smith, Wallace Roney, and every other trumpeter who followed him—did not apply to Brubeck. In that sense, the naysayers were right: there was/is no school of Brubeck. But being the sort of music fan who had discovered the joys of both Benny Goodman and Iannis Xenakis through Brubeck, I couldn’t buy in to the notion that the shadow he cast began and ended with Time Out and “Take Five.” The pianist who recorded “Truth” was clearly not the commercial smooth jazz pianist of myth.

A knottier web of influence was at play, a view confirmed by the other music journalism I was writing. When I wrote about the British post-punk band the Stranglers in 2013, I couldn’t help but notice how deeply indebted their hit record “Golden Brown” was to “Take Five”; when I interviewed Ray Davies of the Kinks, he mentioned in passing how much he had loved the Brubeck Quartet in the 1960s; then the American composer John Adams told me something similar. When I heard Australian rock band AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” during a taxi ride, the fuzzy guitar riff sounded oddly familiar—then I realized it was based on the title track of Brubeck’s 1962 album Countdown—Time in Outer Space.

These experiences, and similar ones, sent me to trace Brubeck’s influence outside jazz. Musicians as varied as Anthony Braxton, Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett had gone on the record to express how important Brubeck had been at different points during their careers. But I wasn’t prepared for the much-feted pianist Andrew Hill—who recorded a strikingly radical series of albums for Blue Note, beginning in 1963 with Black Fire and Smoke Stack, with progressive thinkers like Eric Dolphy, Joe Henderson, and Sam Rivers at his side—to tell me how deeply he admired Brubeck’s pianism. And so, with my title in place, I began to write a book that threw chronology to the wind, a biography that told Brubeck’s story and investigated, as rigorously as I could, the aftermath.

Flip this page and you’ll find yourself in 2003: at the age of eighty-two, Brubeck still felt like such a vital creative force that I thought the dust of history could wait a while. For Brubeck, jazz was never a done deal or marooned in history. He always played music in the present tense—which is where A Life in Time begins.


Oxford, July 3, 2019

Chapter One


“This is the story of America. Everybody’s doing what they think they’re supposed to do.”

JACK KEROUAC, On the Road, 1957

An opulently upholstered private bus which twenty-four hours earlier was ferrying the England cricket team somewhere between disaster and triumph, turns the corner onto Park Lane in central London, as Dave Brubeck, the jazz pianist and composer, eighty-two years old, rests on a cushioned sofa in an alcove at the rear of the vehicle. Wearing a burgundy shirt and cream linen suit, those signature horn-rimmed glasses of the 1950s long since traded in for chunkier light-reactive spectacles, he has entered a heightened state of anecdotal nirvana. Brubeck is leading his quartet toward their next gig and reminiscing about Charlie Parker, Leonard Bernstein… and gangsters.

“When Al Capone kidnapped Caesar Petrillo,” Brubeck muses, referring to the occasion when the mob snatched the omnipotent, all-seeing head honcho of the American Federation of Musicians and held him for ransom, “it was Joe Glaser who arranged his release.”* And Dave, naturally, knew Joe Glaser, the dollar-fixated jazz and entertainment impresario whom even Louis Armstrong would reverentially greet as “Mr. Glaser.”

At the very mention of Glaser’s name, an agog wolf whistle cuts across the four-square rhythmic plod of the bus as it powers through South London, a melodic fanfare that implies, Wow, Dave, now you’re talking. After twenty years of killing time on the Brubeck band bus—a lifestyle guaranteed to test anyone’s tolerance for hearing that same story once too often—Bobby Militello, Brubeck’s long-serving saxophonist, is a lucky man. His boss is a memory bank who keeps on withdrawing nuggets of jazz history, and, with a thirsty smile, he leans in to eavesdrop.

It’s April 23, 2003. Tonight the latest incarnation of the Dave Brubeck Quartet will be performing in Brighton, the East Sussex coastal town affectionately nicknamed by its locals “London-by-the-Sea.” That the Dave Brubeck Quartet is still performing anywhere is, let’s be honest, nothing short of miraculous. The revolutions in sound brokered during the 1950s and ’60s by the Miles Davis Quintet, the Thelonious Monk Quartet, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Ornette Coleman Quartet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop, and the John Coltrane Quartet endure as defining moments in jazz history, and Brubeck’s quartet is the last surviving “name” band from that golden age still going about its business. The earliest version of his quartet carved its own first grooves into history in August 1951, when the pianist and his musicians, including alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, the player with whom Brubeck would become most associated, walked into a San Francisco recording studio and cut four tracks: George Gershwin’s “A Foggy Day” and “Somebody Loves Me” and two original Brubeck compositions, “Crazy Chris” and “Lyons Busy.”*

Those experiments with what Brubeck invariably referred to as “odd time signatures”—the work that defined him and which came to fruition on his 1959 album Time Out—were a whole eight years into the future. But already, in 1951, we hear the Brubeck Quartet refashioning the fundamentals of jazz around the leader’s own ideas about rhythm and harmony—and about how improvisation could flourish inside a music that also placed a premium on inventive composition. Time Out, which spurned the hit single “Take Five,” was released at the end of 1959 and appeared in record stores alongside Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Charles Mingus’s Mingus Ah Um, and Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come, which were all recorded within an implausibly fertile few months during 1959.

Miles recorded Brubeck’s song “In Your Own Sweet Way” in 1957, but then he became embroiled in a spat with Mingus, fought in the letters page of DownBeat magazine, regarding Brubeck’s effectiveness as a pianist—Mingus for, Davis against.* Brubeck was embedded deep inside the heat of ongoing debates about modern jazz. The general critical mood sensed him standing outside its prevailing directions; his classicism, that fixation with odd time signatures, his ear for improvisational flow and rhythm feel, they said, were allied to some other musical project altogether; Brubeck was a shameless popularist, a one-hit wonder, the only thing wrong with his own quartet—but then the modernist heavyweights Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton testified that his idea of composition and the contours of his hands against piano keys seeded ideas about jazz that influenced their own early work. Keep calm and carry on, and explain where necessary, was how he rode these controversies, until he emerged—exactly when is arguable—as an elder statesman in charge of a significant and unique legacy. The creative relationship between Brubeck and Desmond became venerated and adored; yet something about their chemistry continues to be unfathomable and therefore endlessly alluring. And whenever Brubeck comes to town, this web of association, reaching back into the birth pangs of modern jazz, casts an irresistible spell.

The Brubeck band bus, circa 2003, is a haven of contentment. A quartet of musicians (Brubeck and Militello joined by bassist Michael Moore and drummer Randy Jones), one musician’s spouse (Dave and Iola have been married since 1942), one agent-manager (Russell Gloyd, who joined Brubeck in 1976), and a crack squad of roadies and technicians—when Dave arrives, Dave just wants to play—are settling down for the journey ahead. The Nissens, a semiretired couple from Hamburg, Germany, whom Brubeck noticed attending at every port of call during previous European tours, now travel on the band bus: as officially endorsed groupies, they streamline their working lives and plan their holidays around the Brubeck concert schedule. As Iola makes herself comfortable, Dave worries about her motion sickness, but then he marvels at the magnitude and unknowable scale of London.

Tonight’s concert will represent a return visit that few had thought likely. The Brighton Dome’s faux-Gothic splendor was on the schedule when Brubeck toured the UK five years before, in 1998, in order to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of his quartet’s first British tour. Then Brighton hung out the Brubeck bunting and the seaside air felt discernibly different—to the jazz fan at least. In a favorite café, piped Brubeck usurped the customary anesthetizing spew of Classic FM baroque jangle. Recordland, Brighton’s secondhand vinyl and CD wonderland—“We specialise in jazz—records bought, sold and exchanged”—had decked out its front display window with a wall of gig-specific merchandise—Jazz at Oberlin,


  • "Biography, social history, musicological exploration ... this wonderful book is many things. But above all, it is a sort of intoxicating literary jam session. Words and sentences spit and spin and swing, creating rhythms and harmonies worthy of Brubeck himself. The sheer descriptive verve, page after page, made me want to listen to every single musical example cited. A major achievement."—STEPHEN HOUGH, classical pianist and composer
  • "This is the writing about jazz that we've been waiting for. By keeping the music at the center, and interweaving the background of cultural, political and social change to illuminate the development of the music, Clark gives us a complete picture of the artist's life and work."—MIKE WESTBROOK, jazz pianist and composer
  • "DAVE BRUBECK: A Life in Time is about the timeless life of the inspired and inspiring jazz master Dave Brubeck. This biography, written with love and passion, is a landmark document that is insightful and inspiring all in itself. Bravo!"—JOE LOVANO, jazz saxophonist
  • "A nontraditional biography that sings...as unconventional and compelling as its subject."—KIRKUS REVIEWS
  • "A concise but comprehensive biography... [Clark] hits the right notes for die-hard Brubeck disciples and jazz neophytes alike."—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
  • "[A] remarkable biography... [Clark writes] intelligently and joyously... [and] fittingly, for a Brubeck biography, this is also a multifarious work; adventurous with narrative and structure."—MOJO
  • "The emphasis on the technical side of Brubeck's music, and on Brubeck's impact on rock and other nonjazz music, is thought provoking."

  • "[This book] is that rare beast: an uncompromisingly analytical study that absorbs and entertains, illuminating both its subject and his social context."—LONDON JAZZ NEWS
  • "A brilliant book."—JAZZ PROFILES
  • "[A]n engaging new biography... we feel the grain and texture and historical weight of single moments, but only because we also understand the larger picture. It's a rare jazz biography that gives us both, so eloquently."—THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
  • "Time Out may be what Brubeck (1920-2012) is known for, but, as Philip Clark reveals in Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, it is merely the highlight of his long career as a composer, pianist and bandleader. Mr. Clark, a British music journalist, has been writing about Brubeck for more than 20 years. The present book is a crystallization of an interview he conducted with his subject over the course of several days in 2003, supplemented by further interviews with Brubeck, his family, his musicians and associates, and extensive research in the Brubeck archives. Thorough and authoritative, Mr. Clark has done a great service to his subject's legacy."—The Wall Street Journal
  • "Richly detailed... a great achievement."—The Wire
  • "An articulate, scrupulously-researched account based on first-hand information, this book presents Brubeck's contribution to music with the critical insight that it deserves."—BBC Music Magazine
  • "Compelling... By starting in [Brubeck's] autumnal years, the book almost cinematically conjures flashbacks to the past, which get fleshed out by interviews along the way."—Jazz Times
  • "Detailed, informed and engaging... Philip Clark's revealing study enables a deeper and more complete understanding of this artist and pioneer's life and work."—Gramophone
  • "It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified to write a Brubeck bio than Philip Clark, who spent long periods of time with the man, his band members, and his wife Iola; had unlimited access to his papers and correspondence; and has been a flag-waving fan of the music for ages. His book contains a head-spinning amount of detail bordering on micro-history, with in-depth accounts of recording dates and tours going back to the beginning, as well as the kind of musical analysis that could only have come from years of close listening. To call it 'exhaustive' is to undersell it."—The Los Angeles Review of Books

On Sale
Feb 15, 2022
Page Count
464 pages
Hachette Books

Philip Clark

About the Author

Philip Clark is a music journalist who has written for many leading publications including The Wire, Gramophone, MOJO, Jazzwise, and The Spectator. He also writes for the Guardian, Financial Times, London Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement. He trained as a composer but these days prefers to produce his own sounds playing piano as part of a weekly free improvisation workshop. Clark lives in Oxford with his wife, two children, two cats, and more recorded music than he can ever listen to.

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