Living with…Dave Brubeck…for a week

The Dave Brubeck Quartet Performs

Dave Brubeck died last week a day before his 82nd birthday.  I’d heard of him – he was a jazz pianist and I knew about Take Five (and so will you when you play the inevitable video link below).  But beyond that nothing about someone acclaimed as one of jazz’s greats on his death.

So a week to discover more I thought.

A traveller in time

The album to discover was Time Out from 1959.  Not only does it contain the aforementioned Take Five, the rest of the tracks have that oddly syncopated sound that was his and became so strongly associated with jazz after that.  Read all about it and they’ll spin you a story of how Dave Brubeck discovered these unusual rhythms in his travels around eastern Europe and Asia and then decided to incorporate them in to his jazz sound.  Hence you have an album title Time Out – where they modulate between different beats, as in time out…get it?

I guess I do.  I’ve enjoyed the week with the music in the same way as I love Miles Davis and John Coltrane.  These are cool places to be where the sound is stripped back, every note counts. And this forever emulates an era captured in black and white pictures, but yet I’m also happy to move on as well.  Jazz is for me a happy place to be, but also a happy one to move on from.

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Take Five themes

Take Five became part of the living and breathing of Americans for many years as the theme for their news programme Today, so I’ve compiled five loose asssociations with jazz that are immensely cool for me on TV and elsewhere

1. Introduction to Homeland

Far from an obviously classified piece of jazz but the intro to the excellent Homeland drama series is probably closer to jazz than it is any other genre of music.  The writers clearly are massive jazz fans as there’ll often be some Coltrane or such in the background to the characters, but the intro for some reason always tingles my spine with that lonesome trumpet blast oversetting the garbled dialogue.

2. BBC Film intro

The longstanding late night film show on BBC1 introduced for years by Barry Norman, then the annoying Jonathan Ross, and now chirpy Claudia and her mates is defined as much by the intro as anything else.  It is known in the jazz world as I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free by Billy Taylor.  For the rest of us it’s that Film theme.  Nina Simone sang a rather cool version of it as well.

3. Odeon intro

For many years Odeon cinemas have used a rather ‘jazzy’ number in the build up to films.  In the dark anticipation of a cinema with beautiful quadrophonic, hydrophonoc, specialphonic sound it’s always sounded great.  I have no idea if this classifies as jazz (probably of a strong latin leaning) but I’m going with it like that…

4. Taxi

A different type of jazz, one of cool vibraphones and lounge suits but undeniably jazz, the theme to Taxi stands the test of time as well as the series itself.  And lest we forget this is where it all started for Danny DeVito as the snarling little man Louie.

5. Guinness

There is one brand more than any other that knows how to take music, whether it be classical, folk, Mexican or whatever and turn it in to a classic union of picture, sound and brand, and that is of course Guinness.  They did it with jazz and with Louis Armstrong we all remember.

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And if after all this you can’t remember what Take Five sounded like, here it is:

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