US jazz pianist and composer. The Dave Brubeck quartet was enormously successful from 1951 to 1967, and made a significant contribution to popularizing jazz when it was out of favour.
Brubeck studied with Arnold Schoenberg and Darius Milhaud. In the 1940s he formed an octet, which was soon reduced to a quartet featuring alto saxophonist Paul Desmond (1924–77), bass, and drums. The group's great popularity on college campuses was largely a result of Brubeck's cerebral approach, based on such classical devices as fugue and counterpoint, together with Desmond's wistful tone. The quartet represented a new ‘cool’ school in contrast to the frenetic bop that preceded it. Drummer Joe Morello (1928–2011) joined the group in 1956. The group's biggest commercial success was the recording Time Out (1960), one track of which, ‘Take Five’ (composed by Desmond), was an international hit.
Since 1967 Brubeck has led other groups, sometimes including his sons David Darius (1947– ) and Daniel (1955– ). He has played at several Newport Jazz Festivals as well as the Monterey Jazz Festival (1980); in 1981 he was invited to play for President Reagan at the White House. He has also composed several piano concertos, which have been played by symphony orchestras. His more recent compositions include the oratorio The Voice of the Holy Spirit (1985), the Lenten Triptych (1988), and Earth is Our Mother (1992).