If you look at the biography of the late, great jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, two facts will make you wonder how he achieved what he did. First, when he was a kid, his ambition was to be a cattleman. Second, even when he had taken up music, it seemed unlikely he would ever learn notation.
“An intriguing fact is that he graduated from music school without knowing how to read music, probably because of a learning disability,” said pianist Bert Dalton. “The dean of Mills College only let him graduate under the condition that he never teach, because they didn’t want him to embarrass the college.” Instead, Brubeck went on to soar as a musical conceptualist. His best-known high point was the 1959 album Time Out, recorded with members of his longtime quartet — alto saxophonist Paul Desmond (composer of the big hit “Take Five”), bassist Eugene Wright, and drummer Joe Morello.
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