5 x 5

Perhaps my favourite non-classical album is Time Out by the Dave Brubeck quartet. The most well known piece from that album is “Take Five”, and not undeservedly so. Its distinctive time signature is instantly recognizable, and the saxaphone hook sounds good even on a 80386 running chessmaster 2000. To honour Brubeck (who died recently), here are five different recordings of Take Five.

First, here’s the original 1959 recording which appears on the album:

Second, here’s a recording from 1961:

Next, here’s another recording from ’61. As with the previous recording, the underling structure is very similar. However, note the funky chord on the piano at 0:44 (and a related chord at 0:35 in the second version) which isn’t in the original (where it would occur at 0:49). In the original, there’s a vanilla Eb minor chord (first inversion) paired together with an F in the base line (the piece is in Eb minor, BTW). In the later versions, one still has the F, but now the Eb minor chord has become Eb major in the second inversion. Brilliant!

Moving on, here’s a 1964 recording, which for the first time has some improv on the piano. (The projection onto chronological distance between recordings does a pretty good job preserving the metric which measures differences between harmonic improvisations.)

Finally, here’s a 1966 recording; things have gone crazy at this point – the accompaniment has changed, and the drum solo (considered by some [although not me] to be the highlight of the piece) has gone.

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3 Responses to 5 x 5

  1. Brilliant album, brilliant piece. I thought of
    writing out a comment in iambic
    pentameter but I didn’t bother.

  2. Thads says:

    I saw Dave Brubeck with his band at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan just about two years ago. He was in amazingly good form. And he played Take Five without any visible sign of boredom, even though for him it was probably more like Take 5,000.

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