Track Of The Week #10 – Dave Brubeck ‘Take Five’

If you were to imagine a cafe somewhere in say, Paris or New York, a scene with bustle, coffee and energy. A scene filled the rafters with cosmopolitan commuters and dwellers, enjoying the buzz of the city life, then it would be hard to imagine this scene having any other backing track than Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’. The quirky and energetic jazz number is world famous and has been dubbed as one of the greatly important and popular jazz records to have ever existed. ‘Take Five’ went on to be the best-selling jazz single of all time but this was something that Brubeck and his quartet of Paul Desmond (Sax), Eugene Wright (Bass) and Joe Morello (Drums), never anticipated. Originating in California in 1951, the Dave Brubeck Quartet were a jazz group setting the standard by many means. Led of course, by Dave Brubeck himself, a young and talented pianist who was often regarded by the jazz community as one of the most prominent exporters of ‘Cool Jazz’, at the time, a new and lively type of jazz which was swatting away the bores of traditional 4/4 style. This experimental change in style lead to his album ‘Time Out’ becoming the first ever jazz album to sell over one million copies whilst also landing ‘Take Five’a place in the Grammy hall of fame.


The song is known all around the globe due to it’s appearance in television, film and general listening. Obviously with each band, every component is just as important as the next however, there is no denying that the riff played by the song’s composer and saxophonist, Paul Desmond, is the melody which makes the song the catchy classic it is. The Sax doesn’t completely steal the show however, Joe Morello’s drums not only shape the direction of the song, but also helped to create it. Through practicing drum tempos and patterns, Desmond picked up on Morello’s experimentation during practice sessions and grew fond of his creativity. This was the birth of ‘Take Five’s famous drums. Rumour has it that Brubeck drew his inspiration for ‘Take Five’ from his U.S state visits to Turkey and Bulgaria. There he witnessed and learnt of a lively and more experimental native form to that he was familiar with in the US. The influence is apparent as the song carries a quirky, Eurasian feel, one that went on to set the precedent for the future of jazz music across the USA.

‘Take Five’ reached #25 in the US Billboard chart in 1961 and then stayed at #5 in the easy listening chart for a considerable amount of time, something which many Jazz records over the years had failed to do. It’s success and popularity is still something that is apparent even today. The song has been sampled by artists such as Barrington Levy, Quantic and Grover Washington Junior. Not only that but it is still receiving vast royalties to this day. For example, saxophonist Paul Desmond has still been receiving an estimated $100,000 a year since his death in 1977. This truly is a classic which everyone loves regardless of whether you are a jazz fan or not and it is for this reason why it is this week’s track of the week.

Listen & enjoy here –


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