b. 8 November 1934, Carbondale, Pennsylvania, USA. As a small child Bruning played piano and when in high school moved on to guitar. He also became adept at several other instruments, including tuba, double bass, vibraphone and drums. It was on guitar, however, that he went on the road with various small groups. Later, he played for four years in US Navy bands. In 1961, he led the house band on The Del Shields Show on NBC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, thus attracting considerable attention. Among musicians with whom he performed during the 50s and following decades were Dennis Sandole, his mentor and principal tutor, Jim Hall, Red Norvo, Dave McKenna, Dizzy Gillespie, Erroll Garner, Marian McPartland, Michael Moore, Gus Johnson, Bill Frisell, and Chet Baker. He also recorded with Ted Alexander (playing bass), Nicky DeMatteo and Tony Luis in the late 50s-early 60s, and with Rich Chiaraluce in the early 70s. In 1964 he moved to Denver, Colorado, and for domestic reasons remained in that state thereafter.
Bruning became a teacher in 1960, a role in which he continued. In performance, his playing is inventive in conception and fluid in execution. Had he been able to work further afield his status would be much higher in the jazz world than has been the case, and in the early years of the new century this neglect was in the process of being remedied. Although much respected in the region in which he lives, winning not only recognition but also many awards, it was not until the late 90s that Bruning’s reputation began to spread both nationally and internationally. In part, this was thanks to his book, The Dale Bruning Jazz Guitar Instruction Book Series, Vol. I: Phrasing & Articulation, which was published in 1997, and new albums, which received critical acclaim. Another contributory factor to his rising profile was a series of theme concerts, conceived in collaboration with writer-producer Jude Hibler, celebrating the music of Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Arlen, Harry Warren, Johnny Mandel, Michel Legrand, Cole Porter and Kurt Weill, among others. Early in his career, Bruning was influenced by a wide range of jazz musicians, but also listened to classical music, in particular that of Bach, Debussy, Ravel and Bartok. Bruning has also composed several songs and is an accomplished arranger.