December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck has died.

He was 91.



Take eternity.

ADDED: I changed the link to a much better obituary (at BBC), which says that "Take Five" is the best-selling jazz single of all time. He composed many jazz pieces, but "Take Five" wasn't one of them. Also, his mother was a piano-player and she tutored him when he was a child, living on the family's cattle ranch. In 2007, he said:
"When you start out with goals - mine were to play polytonally and polyrhythmically - you never exhaust that... I started doing that in the 1940s. It's still a challenge to discover what can be done with just those two elements."

56 comments:

Sorun said...

I didn't know he had a blind drummer.

leslyn said...

OTOH, it's Little Richard's 80th birthday.

rhhardin said...

5/4 time guy, a song constantly on the snack bar juke box in college.

Music theorists are invited to mark the time signatures of this Tibetan song.

5/4 for the entire song is pretty boring.

Shouting Thomas said...

He and his sons were Woodstockers.

Take Five indeed.

Chip S. said...

Jazzbos who look like Barry Goldwater.

Cool.

Bob Ellison said...

Listen to how the saxophonist demonstrates skill and beauty in the theme statement at the beginning, and then...

...and then, about 47 seconds in, demonstrates that he doesn't give a crap what the theme, the key, or the rhythm is. He drifts back to it occasionally, as if to say "I'm on it", but he's mostly trying to say "you don't get this; I'm above it all".

Well, "Take Five" is a great tune, and Brubeck was a great composer and musician. That tune was an attempt to put music back into modern jazz. It lasted for a while.

MadisonMan said...

A favorite of high school music geeks, back in my high school days.

Shouting Thomas said...

Take Five is, indeed, the ultimate test of a jazz musician.

Playing five beats against four to a bar is damned difficult. And, the trick is to play it with swing.

Relaxing into this is damned near impossible. I've played the tune hundreds of times of jam sessions, often with great jazz musicians.

Tank said...

I got to hear him live at a club in NY in the 70's.

Sweet.

Really sweet.

mccullough said...

Wow. I thought he had been dead for a decade.

Ann Althouse said...

@Chip S

LOL.

Skyler said...

Funny. I was just listening to a Dave Brubeck Christmas tune at my favorite lunch site. Was trying to remember his name.

"TakeFive" is brilliant. I think Paul Desmond makes it the classic it is. Brubeck is great but Desmond was the one who made the sound.

Larry Davis said...

I whistle "Nomad" all the time (when I'm by myself!:) I wore out two copies of "Jazz Impressions of Eurasia" LP's and have it on CD. My favorite album of all time.

Scott said...
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Shouting Thomas said...
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Mitchell the Bat said...

It was Dave Brubeck's music that made A Charlie Brown Christmas so very, very special, for so very, very many of us.

Rest in peace, Mr. Brubeck, rest in heavenly peace.

cf said...

1962 i think it was. Me and my junior high friends -- Phyllis, Johnnie Lee and Nancy Lou -- used to meet up right after school and hike along the railroad tracks to Seco Creek, where we could do anything we wanted. Balancing on the rails, we'd sing the latest songs from THE San Antonio radio station 150 miles away.

Our little scrappy Texas border town had a radio station, too, a little box of a place that sat way out, that we'd pass it along the way.

And one of those afternoons, we saw they had just DUMPED a mess of singles into the arroyo between their shack and the tracks! Roy Orbison? The Ronettes? Maybe! We cut our hike short that day, filled our arms and went back home to hear our treasure.

Actually, they were mostly dregs that had warped in the heat anyway. But there was one, "Take Five" that managed to be in my arms, and when I played it, I was more real, and that whole vast prairie I lived in seemed to make more sense. I felt smarter and expanded and modern unlike anything else.

Years later, driving across expanses like the California central valley, I still save Mr. Brubeck and Miles for those most flat and dull stretches, and the sound fills the emptiness and makes it perfect.

We are SO blessed!

tiger said...

'Take Five' makes the world a more enjoyable place.

Scott said...

"It was Dave Brubeck's music that made A Charlie Brown Christmas so very, very special, for so very, very many of us."

You mean Vince Guaraldi's music.

Saint Croix said...

This is the Brubeck album I have. It's amazing.

RIP.

William said...

I wonder if Brubeck had any groupies, or any that didn't wear black turtleneck sweaters and smoke Gauloises....It's a great song. It truly exists out of time. You don't associate it with a moment but with a mood.

Drew W said...

When I interviewed the jazz guitarist John Scofield, I discovered that he, like me, was from Fairfield County, Connecticut. We kind of laughed about how if you grew up there, you always had plenty of opportunities to see Dave Brubeck in concert. It seemed like he was always playing somewhere, or his kids were, or you knew somebody who somehow knew the Brubecks. (I knew a girl in high school who briefly dated one of the nonmusical Brubeck boys.) The first time I saw Brubeck play was in a church in Norwalk; the second time, with Two Generations in some park in Westport. And for you "Take Five" fans: For a beefier version, listen to Bru's "Last Set at Newport," which features the baritone sax of another Fairfield County resident, Gerry Mulligan.

Jim S. said...

Take Five is the most natural sounding tune with a rhythm of five that I've ever heard. The only other tune that comes close is My Wave by Soundgarden. Something in seven or eleven (or an unusual nine or ten) can be easier to sound natural, since the larger number of beats tends to hide how unusual it is. Five is insane.

Jim S. said...

For anyone who's interested, here's the Soundgarden song that's mostly in 5/4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c1PML5kfbg

Bob Ellison said...

Jim S., I agree RE: "Take Five". Every other five-beat song sounds like a 2+3 beat to me.

One of the other standard-bearers for weird beats, I think, is "Point of Know Return" by Kansas. They went back and forth between 4/4 and 7/4. It's confusing, and not as deft as "Take Five", but really clever.

Emil Blatz said...

Saw him at Summerfest in the 70's. He was great. RIP.

Bob Ellison said...

Jim S., thanks for the link to that Soundgarden song. That's a serious attack on the 3/4, 4/4 hegemony. I hadn't heard it before.

Indigo Red said...

"Take Five" shot the album "Time Out" to the first million sales jazz album. But, "Take Five" was not envisioned by Brubeck to be the hot tune of the album - "Blue Rondo a la Turk" he thought would be the hit; with its 9/8 beat, it's a more difficult arrangement to play and more complex than "Take Five."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kc34Uj8wlmE

Michael K said...

Brubeck and Errol Garner were the musicians of my youth. Now, they are both gone and my youth left a long time ago. The only one left, and it amazes me that he is still with us and performing, is Michel LeGrand.

Patrick said...

When I interviewed the jazz guitarist John Scofield, I discovered that he, like me, was from Fairfield County, Connecticut

John Mayer, also from Fairfield, once jokingly referred to Fairfield CT as "the home of the Blues." Or at least I thought he was joking. Lots of great musicians from there.

Must be something in the water.

How cool to interview John Scofield!

edutcher said...

In the late 50s, he was the face of progressive jazz.

Michael said...

Brubeck on piano but Paul Desmond was the sound was he not? Desmond has been dead for over thirty years. RIP Dave Brubeck.

Time Out was my first jazz album followed by a Zoot Sims offering from a discount label. Bill Evans was my favorite. And is.

Michael said...

cf: Great post. Thanks.

Shouting Thomas said...

Just got the official word from the Brubeck family on FB.

Woodstock is in mourning.

TaraBGoode said...

In Arizona, I think they use that song as music for a grocery store chain.

TaraBGoode said...

I mean: I think they use that song for a grocery store chain commercial.

Paul said...

It is 3+2 not 2+3. Regardless, to a proficient jazz musician it's a simple and natural time signature. The good improvisers play through the bar lines and phrase melodically, feeling rather than thinking about the divisions in the time, so playing in 5, 7, 9, or 11, etc. is effortless and natural sounding.

Shouting Thomas said...

Paul, I'm not a "proficient jazz musician," although I've worked my way through all the fake books in jam sessions.

This is one of the two most difficult songs I've ever played. The other is Monk's Round Midnight.

Both songs are quite extraordinary because they have great melodies, despite their difficult time and chordal structures. Melody usually works best in very simple tunes.

I can play both songs, but I can't really make them swing.

Paul said...

Just for perspective John Coltrane recorded Giant Steps in 1959 too. There is no way Brubeck can be held in the same esteem as Coltrane, but he was accessible, and acceptable, to the white audience.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

It was Dave Brubeck's music that made A Charlie Brown Christmas so very, very special, for so very, very many of us.

That was Vince Guaraldi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta1p_uZgZNo

Paul said...

ST, then by all means stay away from tunes like Inner Urge or Countdown. LOL!!

I'm not a jazz snob...I respect the hell or of Jr. Walker and King Curtis as tenor players too, but just to play jazz at all requires rigorous training and mastery over the instrument.

That being said there are proficient jazz musicians who say nothing and musicians who could never navigate through the most basic changes in many standards who nonetheless are riveting improvisers. Like Albert King...

AprilApple said...

Best. song. ever.

cf said...

Thanks to this posting, the whole day has been framed as a sweet prayer to the unique lives we get to express now.

Thanks for all the links to great music and more understanding, I say to those wise musical ones among us. I am woefully unmusical and I bow.

To those who have to put on an edge and squabble, I have to give you a good wet kiss on the cheek. And try to rub my little titties across your arm so you' ll calm down and enjoy the cool vibe of the day and smile.

Rest inPeace, Mr last century man, we get to love you in this one.

And thanks, Michael, for enjoying my earlier recollecting.

Krumhorn said...

Nobody has ever had Paul Desmond's honey smooth sound. Brubeck was a giant.

- Krumhorn.

Michael Ryan said...

Wow! Back in the day when people dressed up to go out.

ken in sc said...

I used to have a music program that allowed me to compose notes on a staff and would play them. I found that you could play any time signature in 4/4 time. As long as all the tone and note values were held relative, it sounded the same. The computer did not care where the measure bars were. I have heard 'Take Five' many times in my life and never noticed that it was written 'five to the bar'.

RIP Brubeck

10996855 said...

Heard he and his sons in Milwaukee in the late 70's... Truly iconic for all time.

Michael Haz said...

Dave Brubeck. Miles Davis. John Coltrane. The music I listened to when I came home from the bars filled with rock wannabe bands, back when.

Brubeck composed a brilliant long-form piece called To Hope! A Celebration Mass. Here's a clip of Brubeck, his quartet, a choir and the Russian National Orchestra playing it in 1997.

Take ten to listen to the man who made Take Five famous.

Craig said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOVTa7A3WUo

Craig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
autothreads said...

I once told guitarist Steve Kimock that I'd love to hear a medley of Take Five and Favorite Things. He smiled and said, "Yeah, that'd work."

I'd also like to hear a medley of Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Chile and Dr. John's Walk On Gilded Splinters.

My brother turned me on to Brubeck, which the guys we hung out with could tolerate. Miles Davis' Bitches Brew not so much.

Gary Rosen said...

Paul:

"he was accessible, and acceptable, to the white audience"

Guaranteed Paul is a white guy trying to prove how hip he is. What a d-bag.

Gary Rosen said...

Paul:

"he was accessible, and acceptable, to the white audience"

Guaranteed Paul is a white guy trying to prove how hip he is. What a d-bag.

Jason said...

Dave Brubeck served in Patton's 3rd Army, as a draftee in WWII. I don't know what his job was. But in 1944, he played piano somewhere, for some brass, and he was so good they told him to form a band.

He recruited some other players from around US Army Europe, and went back to the brass and said 'I need the best players, and so I'm going to bring in blacks.'

And so his band became one of the very early racially integrated units in the military.

A great guy, and a great master.

When I was a high school music teacher, I'd put on tunes on the stereo in odd meters when the kids were coming in for class, and play "name that time signature" while they were setting up.

"Blue Rondo a la Turk" was one, I used, I remember.

Nobody got it til I wrote on the board:

** ** ** ***/ ** ** ** ***/** ** ** ***/*** *** ***

For 5/4 songs, check out Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Everything's Alright," from the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. Not the movie... they recorded that big fat double album with the brown cover. Check out the piano player's fills... he rocks!!!

My favorite rock song in an odd meter: Peter Gabriel's Salsbury Hill - most of it in 7/4. Beautiful!

Any good Balkan folk player worth his salt is going to be very well acquainted with odd meters. Country set dances all over Europe use them.

Don said...

A wonderful interview with Dave Brubeck (despite the fact it was aired on National Propaganda Radio).

Also, Dave Brubeck’s wife Iola wrote lyrics for “Take Five” and they were recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Carmen McRae doing the singing (listen here).

The lyrics seem to strike a theme also found in other lyrics written by performers’ wives (for example, these well known lyrics were written by Sandy Chapin).

I’m sure bloggers’ spouses (Meade, are you listening/reading?) can identify with the sentiment.

Drew W said...

The comment from autothreads considers a medley of "Take Five" and "My Favorite Things." The jazz/soundtrack composer Lalo Schifrin wrote a clever arrangement that blended "Take Five" with his own, oddly-tempoed theme to "Mission Impossible."