Dave Brubeck was born in Concord, California, on December 6, 1920. He was the third son of Elizabeth Ivey Brubeck, a music teacher and pianist, and Howard “Pete” Brubeck, a cattle rancher. Dave went to the College of the Pacific, in Stockton, California, as a pre-med student with the aim of becoming a veterinarian, but soon changed his major to music. Upon graduation in 1942, he entered the armed services where he served under Patton in the European Theater of Operations. Upon his discharge in 1946, Dave returned from Europe to study composition with the famous French composer, Darius Milhaud. With encouragement from Milhaud, Brubeck began composing and performing with an octet, which included Paul Desmond, Cal Tjader and Bill Smith. The Dave Brubeck Trio, with Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty, won both the Down Beat and Metronome awards for Best New Instrumental Group.
Following a near fatal swimming accident which incapacitated him for several months, Brubeck organized a quartet with his old friend, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. They were an inseparable team from 1951 to 1968, selling millions of records and winning dozens of jazz polls. After the original quartet disbanded, Dave Brubeck toured and recorded with Gerry Mulligan, Alan Dawson and Jack Six; and for two years led an all-Brubeck Quartet with his sons, Darius, Dan and Chris. The current version of the Dave Brubeck Quartet includes Randy Jones, drums; Jack Six, string bass; and Bill Smith, an original member of the 1947 Dave Brubeck Octet, on clarinet.
Over his long career, Dave Brubeck has received many honors. He was inducted into the first Playboy Jazz Hall of Fame, along with Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. He was one of the first musicians to have a star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is a Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale University and holds six honorary doctorate degrees. In 1987, he received the Connecticut Arts Award, and was honored in 1988 at the American Eagle Awards presented by the National Music Council. In 1989, he was inducted into the Pantheon of the Arts at University of the Pacific, and was cited by the French Government for his contribution to the arts. In April of 1990, Fairfield University honored him with the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award. In 1992, he was honored by the Connecticut Bar Association and Simon’s Rock College for distinguished service. He also received the BMI Jazz Pioneer Award and was commended by that organization for his “long and outstanding contributions to the world of jazz.” And in 1994 Mr. Brubeck was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Clinton.
Dave Brubeck first appeared on the Telarc label as a guest artist on Big Band Hit Parade. Fortunately for Telarc, Mr. Brubeck brought his own group to the label and recorded Late Night Brubeck live at the Blue Note in 1993. Mr. Brubeck continues to record for Telarc bringing outstanding recordings to his fans – old and new.