Dave Brubeck Takes Five

Below, Mollie posts on the death at 91 yesterday of jazz great Dave Brubeck, who gave the lie to the notion that artists had to represent tortured souls at war with the society around them.  Brubeck never got into booze or drugs. He just worked at his music, hard, all his life — he was still performing as recently as last year — an ordinary American, doing his job.

Here, a fine early video of Brubeck (he’s the one at the piano) playing his signature hit, “Take Five” (so named because it represented that musical rarity, a piece in quintuple meter).  

Take five to enjoy “Take Five,” remembering a great musician who was also a good man:

  1. Mollie Hemingway

    And don’t forget his sacred music! I do love that he was such a genius while happily married to the same wife and raising six children. We hear so much of other stories about dysfunction, family disasters and lives cut short — nice to have an alternative.

  2. Franz Drumlin

    And yet one hears a dissonant note in this bright chordal progression. The hit Take Five was written by Paul Desmond who was no stranger to intoxicants, legal and otherwise.

  3. Edward Dentzel

    I can make this joke because I’m a classical and jazz trained pianist, and have played Dave Brubeck extensively over the last 30 years:

    Now, Mr. Brubeck isn’t gonna “Take Five.” He’s gonna “Take Forever.”

  4. TJ

    The Time Out album is brilliant all the way through. If I recall, it was  dismissed by critics at the time for being too commercial. It certainly opened the door to complex time signatures for other artists who followed after Brubeck.

  5. Tom Lindholtz

    I liked Take Five. I loved Unsquare Dance.

  6. ShellGamer

    I cannot image “Take Five” or Vince Guaraldi’s “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” getting air time (whatever that means in the IPod age) today. Another concrete measure of how far we’ve fallen culturally in two generations.

  7. Duane Oyen

    Today would be his 92nd birthday, and he is survived by his wife.  That means that, since he proposed to her on their first date when he was 22, they were together for 70 years.

    I am envious, of course- I mess with keyboards, but lack imagination, and have very small hands, so an octave is a stretch.  I am also so structurally traditionalist, that polychords just don’t occur to me seminally, so everything like that is tortured bad mechanical mimicry for me, in the way that classic circle of fifths make sense, and my structural prison doesn’t like strange time signatures either (Take 5  is the best known 5-beat measure song out there, everything you hear played by guitar bands on the radio is 4/4 time).  I’d give a lot to have 1/20 of his talent, and I probably play more than 98 of the first 100 people you meet on the street.  He was a truly unique man.

    On the other hand, if Rubber Duckie and I both stay healthy and live for another 30 years, we could overtake Dave and Iola since we were 21 and 19 when we got married…..

  8. flownover

    Takes Five indeed. 

    thanks for thinking of putting it that way

  9. Dipsy

    If you think Take Five seems difficult to play, try dancing to it, in a group, linked together by swords.

    Take 5, Orion Longsword at Prospect Park Picnic House – YouTube

    I wonder if Brubeck ever knew that Take Five had been used as the inspiration for an new dance added to an English tradition that goes back a couple of hundred years.

    Orion (the Boston area team in the video) is known for their originality and precision dance. I’ve taken workshops where Take Five was taught, and could feel my brain locking up as it tried to process the stepping.

  10. Byron Horatio

    I had the great pleasure of seeing Dave Brubeck perform live in Cleveland about 5 years ago.  Glad I was able to see such a legend before he passed.  I grew up playing the saxophone and wanting to be like him.  Even bought horn rimmed glasses like his because he was what I thought a jazz player should look like. 

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