At the end of last year, jazz aficionados everywhere shed a tear when Dave Brubeck passed away at the age of 91.
Even if you are not familiar with Brubeck's entire body of work, you have likely heard his greatest accomplishment, "Take Five".
If you want to hear something different and introduce yourself to Brubeck's work, this is definitely a song to consider. Brubeck could play traditional jazz music, but the signature beat of "Take Five" is what makes this song special. Because it is played in quintuple time (5/4), the rhythm of the song sounds like it is off a little, yet it is a catchy tune at the same time.
The song was written by Paul Desmond, who often played with Brubeck in his band. Written in 1959, its melodic saxophone and piano are two distinctive pieces of the song that stand out. Even if you hear a few seconds of the tune, you can recognize it right away thanks to the sax play and drum solo.
Even though it is his signature song, Brubeck was known for more than just "Take Five". Between 1959 and 1967, he tried to duplicate that sound with other albums and singles, and his Dave Brubeck Quartet had a successful career.
If you are used to the traditional New Orleans-style jazz sound like Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington, this is a different way to listen to jazz music. With rhythms that were not the standards found in traditional songs, Brubeck's music captured an audience wanting to hear catchy music with a little bit of a twist.
If you read TakeLessons reviews of jazz artists or musicians just starting to learn jazz, Brubeck's name does not pop up very often because of that different way of playing the music. However, you might catch someone daring to take a chance on that type of music and taking a spin with "Take Five" or "Three to Get Ready".
After the dissolution of the quartet Brubeck turned his attention to other forms of music, including orchestral works. It was not uncommon to see Brubeck pop up with symphony orchestras and play his regular songs but also perform other musical works. He even delved into Biblical works with "The Gates of Justice", a late 1960s piece that combined Martin Luther King Jr., the Bible, and music into one larger piece of work.
Listening to Brubeck is a treat. He has influenced a whole new group of jazz musicians through the years, while at the same time introducing people who do not ordinarily listen to jazz to the genre. "Take Five" was heard through the years on different TV shows such as "Today" and in various commercials. His later symphonic works spread Brubeck's audience to other parts of the musical spectrum.
Take a spin around Brubeck's world of music. If you are the type that appreciates something different, Brubeck's music would appeal to you. Even though Dave is gone, his children (Darius, Chris and Matthew) are also composers, and their dad's sound can be found in the childrens' own tunes.
It is easy to close your eyes, picture yourself in a 1950s-era coffee house, and gently tapping your foot to Brubeck's music. It is a style of music that will not be duplicated for quite some time to come.