The definitive, “investigative” biography of jazz legend Dave Brubeck, best known for “Take Five,” told with exclusive, extensive access to the late musician.
In 2003, music journalist Philip Clark was granted unparalleled access to jazz legend Dave Brubeck. For ten days he shadowed the Dave Brubeck Quartet during an extended British tour, recording an epic interview with the bandleader that touched on all aspects of his career. Brubeck opened up as never before, talking about his unique and personal approach to jazz; the heady days of his 1950s and ’60s “classic” quartet, when there was no more popular group in jazz; hanging out with Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis; and the many controversies that had dogged his career.
That career, beginning in 1946 after a stint in the army, lasted until shortly before Brubeck’s death in 2012, a day shy of his 92nd birthday. Alongside much beloved figures like Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong, Brubeck’s music had achieved name recognition beyond jazz. But finding a convincing fit for Brubeck’s legacy, one that reconciles his mass popularity with the techniques and sound of his music, has largely eluded jazz writers and critics. A Life in Time asks why the informed critical consensus that would normally have coalesced around such a senior figure creating viable art in a black medium has, in this case, noticeably failed to materialize.
Structured around Clark’s extended interview, A Life in Time tells one of the last untold stories of jazz. Each chapter explores a different theme or aspect of Brubeck’s life and music, illuminating the core of Dave Brubeck’s artistry and genius. To quote Barack Obama when conferring Kennedy Center Honors on the musician in 2009: “You can’t understand America without understanding jazz, and you can’t understand jazz without understanding Dave Brubeck.”