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Noting that he has played for “almost all presidents since John Kennedy, and him, too,” Mr. Brubeck recalls when Kennedy would have a Thursday musical open house for college students who were pages and interns in the Washington area in the summer. “Pierre [Salinger, Kennedy’s press secretary] had me playing in the Rose Garden, and it leaked out,” he says. “There were so many young people that we moved to the Washington Monument. Tony Bennett was also there that time, so we did a duet together without a rehearsal.”

The memory box is full to overflowing as he goes on to recount early times in San Francisco when a young Clint Eastwood would sneak into the now-defunct Black Hawk jazz club to hear him play. Mr. Eastwood is making a feature-length documentary about him.

Stories from Mr. Brubeck’s long, varied and well-traveled life begin in the present, circle to the past and somehow end up embracing the entire jazz firmament.