© 2024 KVPR | Valley Public Radio - White Ash Broadcasting, Inc. :: 89.3 Fresno / 89.1 Bakersfield
89.3 Fresno | 89.1 Bakersfield
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

It's been 65 years since Dave Brubeck shook up the jazz world with 'Take Five'

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm A Martínez.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And I'm Michel Martin. On this day, 65 years ago, pianist Dave Brubeck and his quartet went into a recording studio in New York City and produced what would become the bestselling jazz single of all time.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET'S "TAKE FIVE")

MARTIN: This is "Take Five." Clearly, they made it swing, but it wasn't easy. Brubeck was trying to work in an unusual time signature. Most popular music is in 4/4 time - you know, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Well, this is in 5/4 time. Listen for that extra beat. One, two, three, four, five, one, two, three, four, five.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET'S "TAKE FIVE")

CHRIS BRUBECK: This goes all the way back to him studying field recordings of what African music sounded like, and it's in all sorts of crazy time signatures and polyrhythmic things.

MARTIN: That's Dave Brubeck's son, Chris. He says his dad in 1959 challenged his bandmate, saxophonist Paul Desmond, to write a song in that unfamiliar 5/4 time.

BRUBECK: And when they first went into the studio at Columbia Records, they tried to record "Take Five," and they couldn't get it. And they actually gave up after 40 minutes and said, this is just too strange for us, and we'll come back in a week. And that's when they came back on July 1 and did record the version that everyone knows around the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #1: Are we supposed to be leaving some hole in there? Open these drums?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Dave Brubeck died in 2012. Since then, Chris Brubeck has been doing a lot of work on his father's archives. And he found that recording of their abandoned first attempt.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #2: They're a little cocky down here.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #3: Forget it. I'll get it. One, two, three, four, five.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #3: No.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BRUBECK: And Dave and Paul Desmond and Joe Morello and Gene Wright, the classic quartet, they were like little demigods to me. And I thought, they never made a mistake. So it was terrific to hear them struggling to play in 5/4 (laughter). They didn't get it at first.

MARTIN: I think I can see where that would have been kind of relieving. Like, they're human, too.

BRUBECK: Yeah, right.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #3: OK, try it again. That's great. This is all rehearsal.

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #2: Yeah, you're [expletive] right it is.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #3: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #2: And I'm not getting paid for it.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #3: Here we go.

MARTIN: Chris Brubeck is now able to share this recording and much more. His father's archives have been kept at the Wilton Library in Connecticut, but they've digitized a great deal of it and now that's available online.

BRUBECK: Someone asked - was your mother a pack rat? - (laughter) because she kept everything. I mean, we have, you know, letters from Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis and Coretta Scott King and, you know, White House invitations and Christmas cards, and, you know, tons of records and recordings. Yeah, there's a lot of things you can see there. You can listen to records that have never come out or tapes. You can see videos, and of course, tons of photographs. It goes on and on.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #3: Let's do something else. We'll come back to this.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Why don't we come back to this?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: That was Chris Brubeck. His father's band, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, went into the studio 65 years ago today and came out with one of the biggest jazz hits of all time, "Take Five."

(SOUNDBITE OF THE DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET'S "TAKE FIVE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.