December 05, 2012

R.I.P. (In 5/4 Time)

After 91 years of insane time signatures, legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck took five today.

He wasn't the first jazz artist I was a fan of.  Heck, he wasn't even the second or third, and to be honest, while I loved "Take Five", both the single and the album, I thought he was a gimmick.  "Oh, hey, watch me play songs in a completely bizarre time that nobody other than beatniks and jazz critics can comprehend."

If you needed proof that I was an idiot when I was young, too, there you go.  Yeah, he could follow beats that would make strong musicians weak and weak musicians want to be somewhere else in a hurry, but on top of that was always a masterful melody.

It's hard to believe that "Take Five" hit #25 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1961.  Times have changed so much... musical talent isn't much appreciated anymore.  But I'll tell you this: guitar god Chet Atkins decided to take a shot at the song and declared it the most difficult piece of music he'd ever played.

...and the most entertaining. 

Dave Brubeck.  He was an artist, a pioneer.

He'll be missed.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:03 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Long ago, I bought a Brubeck album. The liner notes for one of the songs said that Brubeck played it in a live performance one time, and after the show someone came up and said, "Did you know that in this song, the base line hits all 12 notes of the scale once before it repeats any of them?"

And Brubeck hadn't realized it. It wasn't something he did on purpose when he composed the song, it just came out that way because it sounded right.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at December 05, 2012 08:29 PM (+rSRq)

2 This what Fred Kaplan of Stereophile writes in his opening lede on Mr Brubeck's obit: He was a plodding pianist and a less inventive composer than many obits are suggesting. (It was his alto saxophonist Paul Desmond who wrote the biggest hit "Take Five" in 5/4 time, and while Brubeck wrote many pieces in more exotic times still, they didn't swing or flow like Desmond's.) Still, Brubeck was a colossal figure of modern jazz in many ways. 
Not what I believe and it really caused me to see red all afternoon. This is the kind of writing I hate about seminal artists, the need to tear down what they leave as legacy. He & Miles got me into jazz and I am forever grateful.  Very nice remembrance, thank you Wonderduck.

Posted by: vonKrag at December 06, 2012 01:02 AM (XIY2m)

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