Includes the monster hit "Take FiveThe piece is famous for its distinctive, catchy saxophone melody, as well as its use of unusual 5/4 time — so distinctive, it's a rare jazz track that became a pop hit.
Time Out was an experiment by the Quartet in odd rhythms, and some of the other melodies have had a surprising and diverse history. "Three To Get Ready" was a hit in France as "Jazz et Java" sung by Claude Nougaro, who also had a hit with "A Bout de Scouffle" (Brubeck's "Blue Rondo A La Turk"). Also, "Kathy's Waltz" (named after Brubeck's daughter but spelled with a "K" instead of "C" as is his daughter's name) has been recorded and performed by symphony orchestras.
The record label's sales executives didn't want a painting on the cover when Time Out debuted in 1959 on Columbia Records, Brubeck told an interviewer. An entire album of originals? That wouldn't work either, he was told. Some standards and some show tunes were needed in the mix. Fortunately, Brubeck ignored the conventional wisdom and Time Out became the original classic we know it as today. Brubeck became proof that creative jazz and popular success can go together.
The album was intended as an experiment using musical styles Brubeck discovered abroad while on a United States Department of State-sponsored tour of Eurasia. In Turkey, he observed a group of street musicians performing a traditional Turkish folk song that was played in 9/8 time, a rare meter for Western music.
Paul Desmond wrote "Take Five," at Brubeck's urging to try and write a song in quintuple (5/4) time.
"I told Paul to put a melody over (drummer) Joe Morello's beat," Brubeck explained. As a jazz pianist, Brubeck became a household name in jazz in part due to Time Out's success. Demond's cool-toned alto and quick wit fit in well with Brubeck's often heavy chording and experimental playing. Morello and bassist Gene Wright completed the group. The Quartet traveled and performed constantly around the world until breaking up in 1967 to pursue other musical ventures.
Time Out peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard pop albums chart and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. "Take Five" became a mainstream hit, reaching No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 5 on Billboard's Easy Listening survey, the precursor to today's Adult Contemporary charts. The song was included in countless movies and television soundtracks and still receives significant radio play.
Dave Brubeck, piano
Paul Desmond, alto saxophone
Joe Morello, drums
Gene Wright, bass
Dave Brubeck's defining masterpiece, Time Out is one of the most rhythmically innovative albums in jazz history, the first to consciously explore time signatures outside of the standard 4/4 beat or 3/4 waltz time. It was a risky move -- Brubeck's record company wasn't keen on releasing such an arty project, and many critics initially roasted him for tampering with jazz's rhythmic foundation. But for once, public taste was more advanced than that of the critics.
Buoyed by a hit single in altoist Paul Desmond's ubiquitous "Take Five," Time Out became an unexpectedly huge success, and still ranks as one of the most popular jazz albums ever. That's a testament to Brubeck and Desmond's abilities as composers, because Time Out is full of challenges both subtle and overt -- it's just that they're not jarring. Brubeck's classic "Blue Rondo à la Turk" blends jazz with classical form and Turkish folk rhythms, while "Take Five," despite its overexposure, really is a masterpiece; listen to how well Desmond's solo phrasing fits the 5/4 meter, and how much Joe Morello's drum solo bends time without getting lost. The other selections are richly melodic as well, and even when the meters are even, the group sets up shifting polyrhythmic counterpoints that nod to African and Eastern musics. Some have come to disdain Time Out as its become increasingly synonymous with upscale coffeehouse ambience, but as someone once said of Shakespeare, it's really very good in spite of the people who like it. I
t doesn't just sound sophisticated -- it really is sophisticated music, which lends itself to cerebral appreciation, yet never stops swinging. Countless other musicians built on its pioneering experiments, yet it's amazingly accessible for all its advanced thinking, a rare feat in any art form. This belongs in even the most rudimentary jazz collection.
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
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