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Take Five

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"Take Five" is a jazz piece written by Paul Desmond and performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet on their 1959 album Time Out. Recorded at Columbia's 30th Street Studios in New York City on June 25, July 1, and August 18, 1959,[1] this piece became one of the group's best-known records. It is famous for its distinctive catchy saxophone melody; imaginative, jolting drum solo; and use of the unusual quintuple (5/4) time, from which its name is derived.[2] The song was first played to a live audience by The Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Village Gate nightclub in New York City in 1959. Played in the key of E-flat minor, it is noted for its distinctive E-flat minor blues lick and the E-flat minor-B-flat minor jumping chord progression.[3]

The inspiration for this style of music came during a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Eurasia. In Turkey, Brubeck observed a group of street musicians performing a traditional Turkish folk song with supposedly Bulgarian influence that was played in 9/8 time, a rare meter for Western music (traditionally called "Bulgarian meter"). After learning about the form from native symphony musicians, Brubeck was inspired to create an album that deviated from the usual 4/4 time of jazz and experimented in the more exotic styles he experienced abroad.[4]

While "Take Five" was not the first jazz composition to use the quintuple meter, it was one of the first in the United States to achieve mainstream significance, reaching #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart in 1961, two years after its initial release.

"Take Five" was re-recorded and performed live multiple times by The Dave Brubeck Quartet throughout the group's career. In addition, there have been many covers of the piece. Some versions also feature lyrics, including a 1961 recording with lyrics written by Dave Brubeck and his wife Iola, sung by Carmen McRaeAl Jarreau performed an unusual scat version of the song in Germany in 1976.

"Take Five" has been included in countless movies and television soundtracks, and still receives significant radio play. It was for several years during the early 60s the theme music for the NBC "Today" program, the opening bars playing half a dozen times and more each day.

Upon his death in 1977, Desmond left the rights to royalties for performances and compositions, including "Take Five", to the American Red Cross, which has since received combined royalties of approximately $100,000 per year.[5]

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Cover versions[edit]Edit

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