Dave Brubeck Quartet c. 1960…

As a student of piano early on (it always helps when one’s father is a steady performer) I’m happy to say that although my life took more of a sports and business direction in the developing years, my love and appreciation of music and of those who bring it to us, has never left me in my thus far getting to be long life.

Yours truly about to ‘Time Out’ … Just Take Five!

As the pianist of an early rock group we put together in the late 1950s / early ’60s by the name of ‘The 7 Diamonds‘(!), we were just one of hundreds more that populated Britain in those early years, especially within and around the outskirts of Manchester / Liverpool.

The rock stuff, needless to say, didn’t go over too well with the old man, so to cut a long story short, I turned my solo attention to the more sophisticated and relatively ‘upscale’ jazz ensemble, to whit, one of the (if not THE) greatest jazz innovators of all time.

Dave Brubeck.

As NPR described it back in the year 2000: Brubeck had been playing in odd time signatures back in the late 1940s, but it wasn’t until he returned from a trip to Turkey in 1958 that he thought about doing an entire album in different time signatures, like six-four, three-four, nine-eight and, in “Take Five,” five-four. Brubeck’s label at the time, Columbia, didn’t know about his plans. When he finally let them in on what he was doing, the marketing department became nervous about releasing the album, and not just because of the strange meters.

Pause for ‘Take Five’… From a live session in Belgium, 1964:

The quartet recorded the tune in two takes, and when it was done, Paul Desmond, saxophonist and composer, thought the song was a throwaway — so much so that he once joked about using his entire share of royalties from the song to buy a new electric shaver. The title “Take Five” was Brubeck’s idea; Desmond wasn’t crazy about the title, but Brubeck persisted.

“I had a painting on the cover, and that hadn’t happened in jazz,” Brubeck said. “It may have happened in classical, I don’t know. And also, it was all originals, and they were against that. If you did all original compositions, you usually couldn’t do that. You just weren’t allowed to do that. They wanted you to do standard Broadway shows and standard tunes from the love songs of the day or the hits of the day.”

“So I said, ‘Well, we got to have a title. Why don’t you want to use it?’ And he said, ‘Nobody knows what it means.’ And I said, ‘Paul, you’re the only person probably in the country that doesn’t know what it means.’”

Another pause – The entire masterpiece album, Time Out, is here… All 40 minutes of it, with ‘Take Five’ as the third offering. If nothing else, stick it in your archives – a musical masterpiece that never grows old!

And it almost wasn’t used in the final version of Time Out. Both Brubeck and Morello said at the time they couldn’t pinpoint what it was about “Take Five” that has made it the biggest-selling jazz single ever. Brubeck guessed it was the catchy repeated vamp. To drummer Morello, the whole thing just clicked.

“It just worked,” he said at the time. “You know, if anyone could ever predict what’s going to be a big seller like that, my God, they’d be driving around in Rolls-Royces; you know, living in castles.”

“Take Five” spawned a number of jazz compositions in five-four time from lots of musicians, but you’d probably be hard-pressed to name any as memorable as “Take Five.” It’s a jazz standard in its own right, and was always a requisite for Dave Brubeck anytime he played live, as well as drummer Joe Morello, Paul Desmond, and stand-up base Eugene Wright.

“Gene Krupa said to me one time — he said, ‘That’s your “Sing Sing Sing.”‘ He said, ‘That’s the same thing.’ He said, ‘You’re stuck with that one for the rest of your life,'” Morello said. “And I think he’s right, but it’s always a joy.”

Dave Brubeck and the boys, no doubt cutting it loose way up yon, within the hallowed halls of those Pearly Gates.

Time Out – Take Five!


Dave Brubeck’s Time Out: Why Is It So Great?

NPR Nov 19 2000: The Story of Dave Brubeck’s Take Five

H/T Gerard Vanderleun and his American Digest

RIP: Paul Desmond, May 30, 1977; Joe Morello, March 12, 2011; Dave Brubeck, Dec 5, 2012 / Recently celebrated his 96th birthday May 29, Eugene Wright, surviving member.


Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!