Time OutTakes: A Peek Into The Studio With The Dave Brubeck Quartet

When author Philip Clark was researching for his biography Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, he discovered previously unissued tapes from the recording sessions of Time Out in 1959. Time Out, a studio album by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, was the first jazz record to sell over one million copies. The recently released outtakes give us an idea of how the album came to life.

Dave Brubeck formed his first group in 1946. In 1951, composer and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond joined the current trio, creating the first quartet. Over the years, Desmond and Brubeck remained the only constants in the group. In 1956 drummer Joe Morello replaced Lloyd Davis, and in 1958 double bass player Eugene “The Senator” Wright joined the group replacing Norman Bates. They would form The Dave Brubeck Quartet for the next decade. Time Out, recorded in 1959, features these musicians.

Starting in 1955, The American State Department saw the potential of jazz music as propaganda for the American way of life during the Cold War. They would send their most acclaimed jazz musicians, including pianist Dave Brubeck, to countries that recently became independent. These so-called Jazz Ambassadors would promote the western way of life via jazz music. Brubeck, fascinated about folkloric rhythms, picked up inspiration for his compositions while traveling around. In, for example, his composition Blue Rondo à la Turk he got inspired by rhythms played by Turkish street musicians.

The ensemble became known for its use of unusual rhythms. In the jazz standard Take Five, composed by Paul Desmond, the uncommon time signature 5/4 was used. It was the first jazz composition using another signature other than the standard 4/4 or 3/4 times. The song became a widely acknowledged jazz classic and one of the best-selling jazz singles of all time.

With the release of Time OutTakes on the family label Brubeck Editions, we can peek into the studio and have a look at how the album came to life. Apart from alternate takes on Take Five and Blue Rondo à la Turk on the A-side, we get some newly issued materials on the B-side.

The outtakes give us a look into the creation of this iconic album. You can ask yourself: “What if the record label decided to release a different version of the song?”. Song details that fans are so familiar with today could have looked different.

“It’s this outtake of “Take Five” that provides the most revealing insights into the quartet’s humility and clear-eyed approach to making the adjustments that would best serve each tune and the album’s aesthetic as a whole.”

Matt Silver (Review for WRTI Radio)