Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
duaneiac

Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time by Philip Clark

14 posts in this topic

A new biography of Dave Brubeck is due out Feb. 18.

Overview

The definitive, investigative biography of jazz legend Dave Brubeck ("Take Five")

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 Varèse. Each chapter explores a different theme or aspect of Brubeck's life and music, illuminating the core of his artistry and genius. To quote President Obama, as he awarded the musician with a Kennedy Center Honor: "You can't understand America without understanding jazz, and you can't understand jazz without understanding Dave Brubeck."

 

Review

"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, classical pianist and composer

"This is the writing about jazz that we've been waiting for. By keeping the music at the center, 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, jazz pianist and composer

"DAVE BRUBECK: 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, jazz saxophonist

"A nontraditional biography that sings...as unconventional and compelling as its subject."―KIRKUS REVIEWS

"A concise but comprehensive biography... [Clark] hits the right notes for die-hard Brubeck disciples and jazz neophytes alike."―PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"[A] remarkable biography... [Clark writes] intelligently and joyously... [and] fittingly, for a Brubeck biography, this is also a multifarious work; adventurous with narrative and structure."―MOJO

 

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have almost 100% doubt that it's " one of the last untold stories of jazz", I mean, the real "untold stories" of jazz are probably many and will probably never be told because they sprang from a world that no longer exists (and the narrative has long ago been established to an institutional benefit that did not and will not yield in time to have them told in full), but It's a story I'd very much like to hear - and will hear-  if it's from an author who can be trusted.

Do we trust this Phillip Clark guy to just tell the story without advocating for anything other than the story itself?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brubeck led an interesting life.  I hope it's a good book. 

I'm not familiar with the author.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Ken Dryden said:

This book is thoroughly footnoted with the notes at the bottom of the page instead of inconveniently being placed at the end of the chapter or the book, which I greatly appreciated.  

You and me both. HATE having to flip back and forth, or even worse, going back and reading the footnotes after finishing the book and trying to remember why they're there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, JSngry said:

You and me both. HATE having to flip back and forth, or even worse, going back and reading the footnotes after finishing the book and trying to remember why they're there.

+1 !!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How does this book compare to "It's About Time" book by Fred M. Hall published in 1996? Since I own that book is this new one a worthwhile addition?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hall's book was a joke, it was a fan's idea of a bio. Dave and Iola were working on their own book, which will not be published, according to their family, but they knew he would publish his whether or not they co-operated. They did but asked for the galley proofs to review. They were never sent and Hall's book is a disaster. There are numerous mistakes by Hall, many of which I cited in the review I did at the time, probably for the local paper.

Professor Clark, on the other hand, was covering a much narrower period in Brubeck's career and he seems to have checked his work very closely.

Edited by Ken Dryden

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to read a copy of your review. Can you post it here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/7/2020 at 9:32 AM, Ken Dryden said:

Dave and Iola were working on their own book, which will not be published, according to their family,

That is sad news.  I was really hoping the family would see that project through to completion after the passing of Dave and then Iola.  I'd really love to hear Brubeck's professional/personal story told in the words of both Dave and Iola.  They were a real team and their story alone would be priceless to hear.  One can't be married to another person for over 70(!!!) years and not have a few kernels of wisdom worth sharing with others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will have to look up the publication date. I either covered it for the local newspaper or Cadence. 

In any case, it is not worth buying.

 

On 2/9/2020 at 8:49 PM, duaneiac said:

That is sad news.  I was really hoping the family would see that project through to completion after the passing of Dave and then Iola.  I'd really love to hear Brubeck's professional/personal story told in the words of both Dave and Iola.  They were a real team and their story alone would be priceless to hear.  One can't be married to another person for over 70(!!!) years and not have a few kernels of wisdom worth sharing with others.

As I understand from people who have had access to it, it ended up being more of a journal instead of giving background to landmarks in Dave's career, inside stories, etc. There were also things that Dave and Iola would discuss with friends, like issues with Desmond, Mulligan and Morello, but not with journalists, unless they chose to keep the information to themselves. It is a shame that the public won't get a finished book, as there was plenty of potential, given the many facets to Brubeck's career and Iola's excellence as a writer.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry, but I haven't had a very clear head this month, for reasons I don't want to share here.

I don't have the Philip Clark book and won't be reviewing it. I confused it with another book on Brubeck that focuses on Time Out. 

I have deleted the earlier posts to try to clean up my mess.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/11/2020 at 8:21 AM, Ken Dryden said:

In any case, it is not worth buyThere were also things that Dave and Iola would discuss with friends, like issues with Desmond, Mulligan and Morello[...]

That list of band members reminded me that Eugene Wright is still with us at almost 97.  NAMM has a brief oral history here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.