Take Five

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For other uses, see Take Five (disambiguation).
"Take Five"
Single by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
from the album Time Out
B-side Blue Rondo à la Turk
Released September 21, 1959 (1959-09-21);
re-released May 22, 1961
Format 7" 45rpm
Recorded July 1, 1959
CBS 30th Street Studio, New York
Genre West Coast cool jazz
Length 2:55 (single version)
5:28 (album version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Paul Desmond (composer)
Producer(s) Teo Macero
The Dave Brubeck Quartet singles chronology
"Jazz Impressions of Eurasia"
"Take Five"
"Camptown Races / Short'nin' Bread"

"Take Five" is a jazz piece composed by Paul Desmond and originally performed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet on its 1959 album Time Out. Recorded at Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio in New York City on July 1, 1959,[1] two years later it became an unlikely hit and the biggest-selling jazz single ever.[2][3] Included in numerous movie and television soundtracks, 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, the opening bars being played 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[4] piano vamp; catchy blues-scale saxophone melody; inventive, jolting drum solo;[5] and the unusual quintuple (5
) time
, from which its name is derived.[6]

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
of jazz and experimented with the exotic styles he had experienced abroad.[7]

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.[8] The single is a different recording than the LP version and omits most of the drum solo.[9]

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).[10][11][12] 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,[13][14] which has since received combined royalties of approximately $100,000 a year.[15]


Cover versions[edit]

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 and as recently as 2016 by Moira Macdonald on the album Perhaps. Recordings have been released by artists known for playing jazz (Al Jarreau, George Benson), country (Chet Atkins), contemporary bluegrass (The String Cheese Incident) and pop (Stevie Wonder), as well as from artists in many different countries.

Cultural references[edit]


  1. ^ Schudel, Matt (May 12, 2012). "Dave Brubeck, 'Take Five,' and his longtime collaborator credited with the jazz 'legend's biggest hit". The Washington Post. Washington. 
  2. ^ "Dave Brubeck". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  3. ^ "The Mix: 100 Quintessential Jazz Songs". NPR Music. Retrieved 2016-06-05. 
  4. ^ Em / Bm7
  5. ^ Featured on the album version but not on the single.
  6. ^ "Take "Time Out" for Dave Brubeck. by Andrea Canter, May 20, 2008". Jazzpolice.com. 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  7. ^ Kaplan, Fred (2009). 1959: The Year that Changed Everything. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-0-470-38781-8. 
  8. ^ "Record Details: Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five / Blue Rondo à la Turk - Columbia - USA - 4-41479". 45cat.com. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  9. ^ Soundtrack to a Century - Jazz: The Definitive Performances liner notes by Phil Schaap, producer (1999, Sony Music Entertainment, Columbia/Legacy J2K 65807)
  10. ^ "Dave Brubeck". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  11. ^ "The Story Of Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five'". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  12. ^ "Joe Morello dies at 82; jazz drummer for Dave Brubeck Quartet". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  13. ^ Ted GIOIA, The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire, 27/09/2012
  14. ^ Gene LEES, Cats of Any Color: Jazz Black and White, 09/01/2001
  15. ^ Doyle, Brian (2004). Spirited Men: Story, Soul & Substance. Lanham, MD: Cowley Publications. p. 90. ISBN 1-56101-258-0. 
  16. ^ Conti, Pat. Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library 1985–1995. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-9973283-0-1. 
  17. ^ "Take Five by The Dave Brubeck Quartet". Retrieved 4 October 2016.