The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out

The Songs:

  1. Blue Rondo à la Turk
  2. Strange Meadow Lark
  3. Take Five
  4. Three To Get Ready
  5. Kathy’s Waltz
  6. Everybody’s Jumpin’
  7. Pick Up Sticks


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

The Dave Brubeck Quartet was established in 1951 and came to typify the style known as “Cool” or “West Coast Jazz”. With Brubeck on piano and Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, the quartet went through a string of drummers and bassists until stabilizing with the addition of Joe Morello and Eugene Wright. In 1959, Brubeck decided to record an experimental album exploring different time signatures within a jazz framework, several years ahead of the work done by odd-time signature legend Don Ellis. The album was Time Out. Although it was viewed skeptically by almost everyone at Columbia Records, (with the exception of company President Goddard Lieberson), and received poor reviews by many of the leading jazz critics, the album quickly established itself as a classic and became of the best-selling jazz albums of all time. It reached the #2 position on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, while Desmond’s Take Five charted near the top of the Pop and Adult Contemporary Singles charts.



The Dave Brubeck Quartet

Take Five is perhaps one of the best-known jazz songs in the world. With its 3+2 rhythm vamp driving the song, Desmond’s famous “dry martini” alto sound floats with ease and became the very definition of jazz cool. The rest of the compositions are by Brubeck and explore different forms of waltz and swing time, often combining the two. Some are in the double waltz time of 6/4. Besides Take Five, the other standout track is Blue Rondo à la Turk, based on a 9/8 rhythm Brubeck heard some street musicians in Istanbul playing, with the typical Eastern European subdivision of 2+2+2+3. Both Take Five and Blue Rondo have become popular jazz standards and have been covered by dozens of artists. Vocalist Al Jarreau has added lyrics to each of them and recorded them.


The album inspired several similarly themed sequels by the Brubeck Quartet, including Countdown, Time in Outer Space, Time Further Out, Time Changes, and Time In. In 2009 CBS/Sony released a 50th Anniversary Legacy edition . It includes the original album, a live CD made up of performances by the group at several of the Newport Jazz Festivals in the early 60’s, and a DVD that includes an interview with Brubeck about the making of the album. The original recording has inspired musicians for several generations and remains a landmark in small group jazz. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Doug Ramsey. Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond.