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Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time

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Each chapter explores a different theme or aspect of Brubeck's life and music, illuminating the core of his artistry and genius. The sheer descriptive verve, page after page, made me want to listen to every single musical example cited. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images View image in fullscreen Dave Brubeck at the piano with (from left) Paul Desmond, Joe Morello and Eugene Wright, in 1959. Critics thought he was too classic and too "white" in his playing even though his technique was grounded in stride and barrelhouse piano players like Fats Waller, Willie "The Lion" Smith and Erroll Garner. sax, interaction with Charlie Parker; and including the early Octet, which had a strong alignment with the chromatic ideas of Milhaud etc.

He was a “West Coast jazz” musician, but he wasn’t from the same LA scene as the players who were associated with that label and didn’t sound like them either. Chords retain their basic identities while spawning a spectrum of notes, now forced into unlikely alliances, that blend and clash unpredictably. The emphasis on the technical side of Brubeck's music, and on Brubeck's impact on rock and other nonjazz music, is thought provoking. The book’s discussion of Brubeck’s playing and composition styles is perceptive, showing just how different his approach was from peers like Bill Evans, Lennie Tristano, Thelonious Monk, etc. and] fittingly, for a Brubeck biography, this is also a multifarious work; adventurous with narrative and structure.

In his laudable desire to enlighten and convince, Clark describes many of Brubeck’s piano solos in detail.

Each chapter reviews a different aspect of Dave Brubeck's career and does so in a very well argued and well presented manner.Alongside beloved figures like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, Brubeck’s music has achieved name recognition beyond jazz. Also, if you have lingering doubts abouts Dave's Jazziness, listen to the fabulous gem (imho of course! And really I'm not much of a jazz aficionado, but I own a dozen CD versions of his now-classic 50's and 60's albums when he was fronting his eponymously-named Quartet. Clark compiled much of the information that makes up this book from interviews with Brubeck while traveling with Dave, his wife, and the band he was playing with later in his life and career. 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.

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