David Warren "Dave" Brubeck is an American jazz pianist. He has written a number of jazz standards, including "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "The Duke". Brubeck's style ranges from refined to bombastic, reflecting his mother's attempts at classical training and his improvisational skills. His music is known for employing unusual time signatures, and superimposing contrasting rhythms, meters, and tonalities.
His long-time musical partner, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, wrote the Dave Brubeck Quartet's best remembered piece, "Take Five", which is in 5/4 time and has endured as a jazz classic. Brubeck experimented with time signatures throughout his career, recording "Pick Up Sticks" in 6/4, "Unsquare Dance" in 7/4, and "Blue Rondo à la Turk" in 9/8. He is also a respected composer of orchestral and sacred music, and wrote soundtracks for television such as Mr. Broadway and the animated mini-series This Is America, Charlie Brown.
Brubeck was born in Concord, California and grew up in Ione. His father, Howard "Pete" Brubeck, was a cattle rancher, and his mother, Elizabeth, who had studied piano in England under Myra Hess and intended to become a concert pianist, taught piano for extra money. Brubeck originally did not intend to become a musician, but took lessons from his mother. He could not read sheet music during these early lessons, attributing this difficulty to poor eyesight, but "faked" his way through, well enough that this deficiency went mostly unnoticed.
Intending to work with his father on their ranch, Brubeck entered the College of the Pacific studying veterinary science, but transferred on the urging of the head of zoology, Dr Arnold, who told him "Brubeck, your mind's not here. It's across the lawn in the conservatory. Please go there. Stop wasting my time and yours." Later, Brubeck was nearly expelled when one of his professors discovered that he could not read music. Several of his professors came forward, arguing that his ability with counterpoint and harmony more than compensated. The college was still afraid that it would cause a scandal, and only agreed to let Brubeck graduate once he promised never to teach piano.