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Born in Bad Pyrmont, Germany, Brüninghaus began in the jazz rock group Eiliff. In 1973 he joined the band of German jazz guitarist Volker Kriegel. In 1975 with bassist Eberhard Weber and Charlie Mariano he formed the band Colours. Heinz Sauer hired him in 1978 as a pianist for his collaboration with George Adams and Archie Shepp at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival.
Brüninghaus has also written music for symphony orchestra, Big bands and smaller ensembles as well as for film and television.
With Jan Garbarek
With Eberhard Weber
- The Colours of Chloë (ECM, 1973)
- Yellow Fields (ECM, 1975)
- The Following Morning (ECM, 1976)
- Silent Feet (ECM, 1977)
- Little Movements (ECM, 1980)
- Endless Days (ECM, 2001)
- Wolf Kampmann Reclams Jazzlexikon Stuttgart, Reclam 2003; ISBN 3-15-010528-5
- Martin Kunzler, Jazz-Lexikon Bd. 1. Reinbek 2002; ISBN 3-499-16512-0