Idolatrous biography of famed jazz-pop pianist/composer/bandleader Brubeck, with analysis of his recordings and compositions. Brubeck was born in the foothills of California's Sierra mountains; his father was a cowhand, his mother a classical pianist with a taste for the arts. Showing musical skill from an early age, Brubeck began performing as a dance-band pianist in his teens. After serving in WW II (primarily as an entertainer), he studied with modern composer Darius Milhaud. Brubeck showed an early interest in both polytonality and polyrhythms. He formed an octet to perform his experimental combination of jazz and modern classical music, but also worked in several trios to pay the rent. In the early '50s, he was one of the founders of the West Coast jazz label Fantasy and began recording. His performances on college campuses were most influential, bringing the new school of educated jazz to a young, enthusiastic audience. His most famous quartet lasted from the mid-'50s to the late '60s; this group recorded Brubeck's best-known tunes, including the ever-popular ""Take Five,"" from the famous album Time Out that sought to expand the jazz vocabulary to include unusual rhythms. After the group disbanded in 1967, Brubeck performed with his sons, who took his music in a more jazz-rock fusion direction. Of late, Brubeck has been less active, although the book takes his work up to date. This chatty biography by Hall, who produces a syndicated jazz radio show, does not always follow a straight chronological path, and it's marred by occasional repetitions. He is obviously a fan, and his writing, while colorful, tends toward hyperbole, for instance, comparing the quality of Brubeck's rather thin classical output to the work of Charles Ives, Leonard Bernstein, and Aaron Copland. Nevertheless, a good primer for the reader interested in Brubeck, his music, and his times.