March 21, 2011


Jazz luminary Dave Brubeck (who is still touring!) is known for his unique experiments with time signatures. His most famous composition, Take Five, established the composer/pianist in the wider mainstream, along with saxophonist Paul Desmond. Another key ingredient to the synergy and flavor of these experiments within the Dave Brubeck Quartet was the time-keeper himself, drummer Joe Morello. I was sad to learn on Brubeck's website today that Joe Morello passed away on March 12th at the age of 82. New York Times obituary here. In the clip below, you see Joe tackle a great solo with his bare hands.

Take Five appeared on the album Time Out in 1959, a year that would see a renaissance in the arts with work by jazz artists Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and cinematic landmarks Black Orpheus, introducing the world to Bossa Nova, and the rise of the French New Wave led by director Francoise Truffaut. William S. Burroughs published Naked Lunch in 1959. The period also saw seminal works by John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Frank, and Andy Warhol. The iconic cover of Brubeck's Time Out was painted by Neil Fujita, who passed away last October (New York Times obituary here).

My family had some links with the Brubeck family during our long years in Wilton, CT, though we did not keep in touch. My very best to Dave (hope he returns to San Francisco), and to Joe's family and friends. Thank you for inspiring so many of us to play music and for your musical voices. I don't know if any of the Brubeck Quartet music is orbiting outer space on Voyager, but I like to think that some of these expressions of the human experience are out there with Glenn Gould and the others. Joe, you will be forever loved and missed. I encourage Spy Vibers to catch one of Dave's upcoming shows. He is a special creator from this renaissance, and a contemporary artist who has much to say musically.

Imagine yourself back in 1959, putting this record on the player for the first time. You have never heard anything like it, and it would soon become an iconic tune that would capture the imagination of generations. The clip below is the original album version (ignore the extra subtitles and enjoy the photos). Spy Vibers can find many great Brubeck and Morello clips on Youtube. There are also wonderful doc films about their work together. Now listen to the quartet play Take Five.

1 comment:

  1. R.I.P. indeed!

    I was never interested in jazz until one day when Take Five wafted out of my Blaupunkt Exportsuper car radio. I happened to turn it on in the middle of the piece and the disc jockey did not back-announce it, so I had no idea of the title or artist. I later phoned a friend who was a bit of a jazz aficionado; I was able to hum a few bars and of course, he recognized it immediately. I bought the LP a few days later. It's still one of my favorites.



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