Dave Brubeck has for half a century been a major figure as pianist, composer, and leader of perhaps the most widely known and well-traveled quartet in the history of jazz. The album Time Out, released in 1959, was the first million-selling jazz record in modern jazz history with the singles "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk."

In 1954, Brubeck became the first jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Time magazine, which heralded Brubeck as the leader of "the birth of a new kind of jazz age in the U.S." Between the years of 1959 and 1965, the Quartet, with Paul Desmond, drummer Joe Morello, and bassist Gene Wright, won Down Beat magazine's reader's poll five times and garnered the top spot in the Billboard reader's poll in '65 and '66. Throughout a career that spans more than six decades, Brubeck has received the highest honors in the industry, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Presidential Medal of the Arts, and designation as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.