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Born in 1920
Inducted in 2003
David Warren Brubeck was born December 6, 1920, in Concord, California, about 30 miles east of San Francisco. His mother taught piano at home, and tried to teach classical music to her son. Brubeck was not interested in learning any particular method or style, and preferred to create his own melodies. After graduating from the University of the Pacific in 1942, Brubeck was drafted into the army and served overseas under General George Patton. He returned to college, this time attending Mills College to study music with Darius Milhaud. Milhaud encouraged him to study classical fugue forms and orchestration. Milhaud’s classical teaching can be heard in most of Brubeck’s compositions and improvisations. In 1951, Brubeck formed a quartet featuring Paul Desmond on alto saxophone. They experimented with time signatures and had a big hit with Desmond’s composition, “Take Five,” a jazz tune in 5/4 meter. It was so successful that the quartet continued with many other tunes in irregular meters. At the 2006 Monterey Jazz Festival, Brubeck performed “Cannery Row Suite,” a jazz/classical opera based on John Steinbeck’s writings about Monterey’s roots in the fishing industry. His wife, Iola, co-authored the piece with him.