Dave Brubeck Quartet: “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo à la Turk”

Brubeck’s biggest piece, Take Five, above. Below is a cute idea on presenting Blue Rondo à la Turk using aerial footage above Los Angeles. The notes at YouTube say it was broadcast on the program The Lively Ones on July 25, 1962.

Here is the start of a good Brubeck bio:

Dave Brubeck, designated a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, continues to be one of the most active and popular musicians in both the jazz and classical worlds. With a career that spans over six decades, his experiments in odd time signatures, improvised counterpoint, polyrhythm and polytonality remain hallmarks of innovation.

Born into a musical family in Concord, California– his two older brothers were also professional musicians–he began piano lessons with his mother at age four. He was 12 when his father moved the family to a cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierras. Dave’s life changed dramatically. Piano lessons ended and cowboy life began. He worked with his father on the 45,000 acre cattle ranch. When he was 14, he started playing in local dance bands on weekends. When he enrolled at the College of the Pacific, in Stockton, California, his intention was to study veterinary medicine and return to the ranch. While working his way through school as a pianist in local nightclubs, the lure of jazz became irresistible and he changed his major to music. Graduating in 1942, he enlisted in the Army, and shortly thereafter married Iola Whitlock, a fellow student at Pacific. While serving in Patton’s Army in Europe, he led a racially integrated band. After his discharge from military service in 1946, he enrolled at Mills College in Oakland, California to study composition with French composer, Darius Milhaud. Milhaud encouraged him to pursue a career in jazz and to incorporate jazz elements into his compositions. This cross-genre experimentation with like-minded Milhaud students led to the formation of the Dave Brubeck Octet in 1947. In 1949, Brubeck with Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty, fellow Octet members, cut their first award-winning Dave Brubeck Trio recordings. After suffering a near fatal diving accident in 1951, Dave formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, who was also a member of the Octet. The legendary Brubeck-Desmond collaboration lasted seventeen years and beyond. Continue Reading…

Lots of good information about Brubeck is available at his site.

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5 Responses

  1. Soul of Wit

    Brubeck was my first exposure to jazz. I was brought up on pop (Mom) and country (Dad,) so time signatures were a bit mind blowing.

    Reply
  2. Carl

    Yes, I saw an interview with him that seemed more like math than music. I thought I was back in school struggling with fractions.

    Reply
  3. Jim

    Take Five and Blue Rondo.. are my favorite jazz pieces. Fifty years ago I had a musician friend explain them to me and had no idea what he was talking about. Great choice.

    Reply
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