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Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time

Philip Clark

8 Reviews

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Biography: arts & entertainment

The definitive, investigative biography of jazz legend Dave Brubeck.

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 Varese. Each chapter explores a different theme or aspect of Brubeck's life and music, illuminating the core of his artistry and genius.

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Praise for Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time

  • This is the writing about jazz that we've been waiting for. By keeping the music at the centre, 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

  • 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

  • Definitive . . . remarkable. Clark writes intelligently and joyously. - Mojo

  • '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

  • A nontraditional biography that sings . . . an adoring biography as unconventional and compelling as its subject. - Kirkus Reviews

  • Clark hits the right notes for die-hard Brubeck disciples and jazz neophytes alike. - Publishers Weekly

  • The definitive biography of one of jazz's most successful pianists - The Guardian

  • A Life in Time is that rare beast: an uncompromisingly analytical study that absorbs and entertains, illuminating both its subject and his social context. - London Jazz News

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Philip Clark

PHILIP CLARK is a music journalist who has written for many leading publications including The Wire, Gramophone, MOJO, Jazzwise, The Spectator, the Times Literary Supplement and the Financial Times. He also writes regularly for the Guardian and the
London Review of Books. 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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