Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Take Five

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"Blue Rondo à la Turk"

West Coast cool jazz

7" 45rpm

September 21, 1959 (1959-09-21); re-released May 22, 1961

July 1, 1959 CBS 30th Street Studio, New York

2:55 (single version) 5:28 (album version)

"Take Five" is a jazz piece composed by Paul Desmond and originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet for its 1959 album Time Out. Made at Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio in New York City on July 1, 1959, two years later it became an unlikely hit and the biggest-selling jazz single ever. Appearing since on numerous movie and television soundtracks, today it still receives significant radio play. "Take Five" was for several years during the early 1960s the theme music for the NBC Today TV program, which played the opening bars half a dozen times or more each day.


Written in the key of E-flat minor, the piece is known for its distinctive two-chord piano vamp, catchy blues-scale saxophone melody, inventive, jolting drum solo, and unusual quintuple (5
) time, from which its name is derived.

Brubeck drew inspiration for this style of music during a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Eurasia, where he observed a group of Turkish street musicians performing a traditional folk song with supposedly Bulgarian influences that was played in 9
time (traditionally called "Bulgarian meter"), rarely used in Western music. After learning from native symphony musicians about the form, Brubeck was inspired to create an album that deviated from the usual 4
time of jazz and experimented with the exotic styles he had experienced abroad.

Although released as a single initially on September 21, 1959, the chart potential of "Take Five" was fulfilled only after its re-release in May 1961, reaching #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 9 that year and #5 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart three weeks later. The single is a different recording than the LP version and omits most of the drum solo.

The piece was also chosen to promote Columbia's ill-fated attempt to introduce 33 13 rpm stereo singles into the marketplace, in 1959. Along with a unique stereo edit of "Blue Rondo à la Turk", it was pressed in very small numbers as part of a promotional set of records sent to DJs in late 1959.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet first played "Take Five" to a live audience at the Village Gate nightclub in New York City in 1959[exact date?]. Over the next 50 years it was re-recorded many times, and was often used by the group to close concerts: each member, upon completing his solo, would leave the stage as in Haydn's Farewell Symphony until only the drummer remained ("Take Five" having been written to feature Joe Morello's mastery of 5
time). Some of the many cover versions feature lyrics co-written by Dave Brubeck and his wife Iola, including a 1961 live recording sung by Carmen McRae backed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Al Jarreau performed an unusual scat singing version of the piece in Germany in 1976.

Desmond, upon his death in 1977, left the performance royalties for his compositions, including "Take Five", to the American Red Cross, which has since received combined royalties of approximately $100,000 a year.


  • Dave Brubeck – piano
  • Paul Desmond – alto saxophone
  • Eugene Wright – bass
  • Joe Morello – drums
  • Structure

    "Take Five" is played in E minor in 5
    time (mainly 4 quarter notes and 2 sixteenth notes interrupted by rests). The music piece can be decomposed into 10 dinstinct parts  · :

    The highest note of a few motives is often accented (See "Section B" on the fifth and "Section solo 1").

    Cover versions

    The piece has been a staple of jazz and pop music since it was first released. More than 40 cover versions have been recorded, as early as Carmen McRae's cover in 1961 on an album titled Take Five Live. Recordings have been released by artists known for playing jazz (Al Jarreau, George Benson), country (Chet Atkins), bluegrass (the String Cheese Incident) and pop (Stevie Wonder), as well as from artists in many different countries. In 1972, singer Don Partridge wrote lyrics to "Take Five" sung to the saxophone melody, and regularly performed the song in live stage performances and when street-busking throughout Europe. In 2011, a version by Pakistan's Sachal Studios Orchestra won widespread acclaim and charted highly on American and British jazz charts.


    Take Five Wikipedia

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