Take Five

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"Take Five"
45 label for "Take Five".jpg
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
Songwriter(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"
"Jazz Impressions of Eurasia"
"Take Five / Blue Rondo à la Turk"
"Camptown Races / Short'nin' Bread"

"Take Five" is a jazz standard 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,[1] two years later it became an unlikely hit and the biggest-selling jazz single ever.[2][3] It has since featured in numerous movie and television soundtracks and still receives significant radio airplay.

Written in the key of E minor, the piece is known for its distinctive two-chord[4] piano vamp; catchy blues-scale saxophone melody; inventive, jolting drum solo;[5] and 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]

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, that year reaching No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 (October 9),[8] No. 5 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart (October 23)[9] and No. 6 on the UK Record Retailer chart (November 16).[10] The single is a different recording than the LP version and omits most of the drum solo.[11]

The piece was also chosen to promote Columbia's ill-fated attempt to introduce 33 13 rpm stereo singles into the marketplace. Along with a unique stereo edit of "Blue Rondo à la Turk", it was pressed in 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. 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).[12][13][14] Some of the many cover versions include 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,[15][16] which has since received combined royalties of approximately $100,000 a year.[17][18]



"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 distinct parts [19] · :[20]

Part Description
Part 1 Intro : Drum, piano and double bass set up 5/4 groove with the two chords ostinato : Ebm - Bbm7 x8.
Part 2 Section A : alto sax plays melody in two similar 4-bar phrases. Melody : D-E-E-B then D-E-B-E.
Part 3 Section B : alto sax plays bridge melody in two similar 4-bar phrases. Melody : C-B-A-G then C-B-A-F.
Part 4 Section A' : Melody : D-E-E-B then D-E-E-B.
Part 5 Section solo 1 : improvised alto saxo solo.
Part 6 Section solo 2 : improvised drum solo.
Part 7 Section A' (Melody : D-E-E-B x2) preceded by the intro ostinato (Ebm - Bbm7).
Part 8 Section B : Melody : C-B-A-G then C-B-A-F.
Part 9 Section A : Melody : D-E-E-B then D-E-B-E.
Part 10 Conclusion : Melody B-B-E (persistent E as final note).

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

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. 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.[21] In 2011, a version by Pakistan's Sachal Studios Orchestra won widespread acclaim and charted highly on American and British jazz charts. [22]

In popular culture[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. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Chart History". Song-database.com. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  9. ^ "Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart Archive 1961". Song-database.com. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  10. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 50 1961". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  11. ^ Soundtrack to a Century - Jazz: The Definitive Performances liner notes by Phil Schaap, producer (1999, Sony Music Entertainment, Columbia/Legacy J2K 65807)
  12. ^ "Dave Brubeck". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  13. ^ "The Story Of Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five'". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  14. ^ "Joe Morello dies at 82; jazz drummer for Dave Brubeck Quartet". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  15. ^ Ted GIOIA, The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire, 27/09/2012
  16. ^ Gene LEES, Cats of Any Color: Jazz Black and White, 09/01/2001
  17. ^ Doyle, Brian (2004). Spirited Men: Story, Soul & Substance. Lanham, MD: Cowley Publications. p. 90. ISBN 1-56101-258-0. 
  18. ^ "Paul Desmond – Celebrating a Legacy of Music and Compassion". www.redcross.org. Retrieved 2016-11-12. 
  19. ^ Richard J. Lawn, Experiencing Jazz, Routledge, 20 mars 2013
  20. ^ Austin Lee Barnes, Analysis of selected percussion literature: Concerto for vibraphone and orchestra by Ney Rosauro, Surface tension by Dave Hollinden, Urban sketches for percussion trio by Lon W. Chaffin, "Take Five" by Paul Desmond, and DT supreme by Austin Barnes, Kansas State University, 2012
  21. ^ Stewart Partridge, brother
  22. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/05/pakistan-musicians-top-western-charts-jazz
  23. ^ Conti, Pat. Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library 1985–1995. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-9973283-0-1. 
  24. ^ "Take Five by The Dave Brubeck Quartet". Retrieved 4 October 2016. 
  25. ^ Audio comparison at whosampled.com